Since Disney bought Lucasfilm, the Star Wars movies have included at least one character that viewers have fallen in love with. The Force Awakens had BB-8 and Rogue One had K-2SO. Disney is hoping that the Porgs will be the new lovable character from The Last Jedi.
The movie is still five months away, but the Disney marketing machine is already working at full speed. This week, The Last Jedi is featured in Entertainment Weekly to build excitement ahead of this year’s Force Friday in September. Writer/director Rian Johnson introduces the Porgs to the general public in the magazine, although Star Wars fans have known about the creatures for months thanks to leaks. They made their official debut in the Last Jedi behind-the-scenes reel shown at D23 last month.
Here’s what you need to know about the fuzzy little creatures that you’ll be spending your money on next month.
1. The Porgs Were Inspired by the Puffins at Skellig Michael
Johnson told Entertainment Weekly that the Porgs were inspired by the puffins seen at Skellig Michael, the Island off the coast of Ireland that has stood in for Ahch-To in the new movies. That’s the planet where Rey (Daisy Ridley) finds Luke Skwaylker (Mark Hamill) at the end of The Force Awakens. The Last Jedi is said to be picking up right at the end of that film.
“If you go to Skellig at the right time of year, it’s just covered in puffins, and they’re the most adorable things in the world,” the Looper filmmaker told EW. “So when I was first scouting there, I saw these guys, and I was like, oh, these are part of the island. And so the Porgs are in that realm.”
Johnson said there are other creatures on Ahch-To, including the “Caretackers,” who are not too happy about Luke being there.
“They’re kind of these sort of fish-bird type aliens who live on the island,” Johnson told the magazine. “They’ve been there for thousands of years, and they essentially keep up the structures on the island.”
2. Oscar-Winner Neal Scanlan Designed the Porgs, Which Have Wings
The design for the Porgs comes from Neal Scanlan‘s creature shop. Scanlan is an Oscar-winner for Best Visual Effects for Babe (1995) and earned an Oscar nomination for The Force Awakens. His team’s other credits include Rogue One, Prometheus and the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
In an interview with Crave Online, Scanlan said he enjoyed building practical creatures for The Force Awakens, which was directed by J.J. Abrams. He appreciated a director who wanted to bring back physically-built creatures instead of relying on CGI.
“You see, creatures, those things, what was amazing was that, to some extent, the craft of what we do has been forgotten a little bit,” Scanlan explained to Crave Online. “And that’s not a bad thing. It’s not a criticism. It’s a reality. The digital effects are just unbelievably brilliant, and they do so much. So, I think, what was interesting working for J.J. and [producer] Kathleen Kennedy right from the start was that they didn’t really have any preconceptions of what special effects could provide for them.”
Scanlan also designed the Caretakers of Ahch-To, and worked with costume designer Michael Kaplan.
3. Porgs Can Fly & Their Babies Are Called Porglets
As descriptions and images of the porgs began to leak, StarWars.com tried to get ahead of the excitement with an interview with Lucasfilm Story Group’s Pablo Hidalgo.
Hidalgo explained that the creatures are native to Ahch-To. They can fly and their babies are called portlets, he said.
When asked about their personality, Hidalgo replied, “Given how rarely their island has visitors, their curiosity outweighs any skittishness they may have.”
Some of the porgs we see in The Last Jedi are created with puppets, whose puppeteers are removed from the shot in post-production. However, there are some scenes that require CG versions of porgs.
4. Plenty of Porg Toys Will be Available on Force Friday in September
On September 1, there will be another Force Friday, when you’ll get a chance to take home a Porg for yourself. A leaked checklist reveals that the 3.75″ Chewbacca figure will come with a porg. Of course, when a full list is released, it will likely include porgs in other scales.
The first time we ever saw a porg was on a toy. A home pinball machine leaked, which shows porgs hanging out with R2-D2. Making Star Wars also published a drawing of a porg sitting on R2-D2’s head, just based on leaked descriptions. Surprisingly, the drawing looks almost exactly like the porgs we see in the movie.
Also, author Kevin Shinick and illustrator Fiona Hsieh made Star Wars: Chewie and the Porgs.
5. Porgs Are Already Being Turned Into Memes
Since we’ve known about porgs for awhile now and Star Wars fans are used to “cute” characters turning out to be terrible, Porks are already inspiring plenty of memes on social media. People also provided their own captions for Entertainment Weekly’s image of a porg sitting on the Millennium Falcon‘s “dash board.”
Here’s a few of the best.