The ever increasing size of the hugely passionate Porg Nation is the only proof you need of just how popular the tiny creatures known as Porgs already are.
Which is particularly incredible because “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” isn’t even out yet, and our only sights of the adorable doe-eyed critters have been their brief appearances in its trailers. At the end of November I had the opportunity to speak to Neal Scanlan, who works as Lucasfilms’ creature creator, about the development of the Porgs, and he broke down exactly how they came to be.
It turns out that we have director Rian Johnson to entirely blame for the animals, as he was the first to insist that they’d populate the planet of Ahch-To, the home to the lonesome Luke Skywalker at the end of “The Force Awakens.”
“The amazing thing about Rian as a director is that the first time we met him he had the entire movie in his head. We could sit down with Rian and ask, ‘What about this sequence?’ And he’d be able to describe it to you very clearly.”
“So he said to us, ‘The place where Luke is, there happens to be these little characters called Porgs.’ So we were like, ‘Oh my gosh! They have a name already.’ When you close your eyes and say the name Porg, it does suggest something. Porg is a great name.”
Johnson had much more than that, too, as he gave the “Star Wars” creature team a general idea of what he wanted the Porgs to look like.
“He described them as Puffin like. Sort of a cross between a Puffin, a seal, and a pug dog. With that information we effectively, me and the concept team, just sketched away and played for several weeks.”
The breakthrough came courtesy of a vegetable, though. “One day one of the guys came up with this drawing that looked like an oval potato, with little legs and big eyes.”
Simplicity was the key to this design, too, as Scanlan explained, “It was in the tradition of one of the key elements of being a ‘Star Wars’ character. You think of BB-8, there’s a clear silhouette to BB-8.”
“Any child can draw BB-8, and we’d all know what it was. So could we with this design. And Rian saw it immediately. So we then literally fleshed that design out, coming up with ideas so that the audience could engage with them.”
But while audiences and “Star Wars” fans have already become particularly enamored with the Porgs, some have taken their interest to the extreme by speculating about what they taste like. Especially as a shot of Chewbacca with a feather seemingly hanging out of his mouth suggested that the Wookie was partial to them as a snack.
When I asked Scanlan if he’d been made aware of the macabre side of Porg fandom, he responded, “No, I haven’t. I need to catch up on this.” Scanlan then rather surprisingly added that he is more than happy for a particularly peckish Porg fan try one of his prototypes.
“Anybody is certainly open to try and eat one of ours. I’m not certain they will live up to the same expectation. I will dice up a Porg.”
We’ll finally get to see if Chewwie, or anyone else from the “Star Wars” universe for that matter, eats a Porg, and if their cuteness quickly becomes tiresome, when “The Last Jedi” is released on December 15.