Oscar Winning creature-effects supervisor for Star Wars: The Force Awakens — Neal Scanlan — sat down with USA Today and talked about the over 100 aliens that he helped bring to life on the big screen for Episode VII…
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Neal Scanlan is far removed from his Oscar win for Best Visual Effects for the film Babe (1996). In fact, you could say he’s about a galaxy far, far away, removed from that film. Scanlan had the privilege of working with J.J. Abrams as the creature-effects supervisor for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a film that both resurrected the Star Wars genre, and the use of practical effects and puppeteered aliens.
USA Today recently caught-up with Scanlan and got the scoop on some incredibly interesting facts about the creatures from The Force Awakens. According to USA Today, Scanlan repurposed — if you will — everyone’s favorite ewok, Warwick Davis (Wicket in Return of the Jedi), and turned him and his daughter into the spider-looking aliens from Maz Kanata’s bar. By the way, he named these aliens, Nip and Tuck:
"“If you were in Maz’s world and you needed to get out without being recognized, you could always call upon these people.”"
I’m assuming that Nip and Tuck are interstellar plastic surgeons for hire, that can change anyone’s appearance for what I am sure is a hefty sum. Scanlan also talked about the creation of these new aliens for The Force Awakens, and how some of them became more than just background characters:
"“There were certain aliens that we made [them], even during the shooting process, clearly transcended from being just a background alien to having an authority or likability. Should the human race of Star Wars die tomorrow, any one of these characters could take the mantle and become the next species that dominated the universe.”"
That’s some high praise. The Force Awakens absolutely introduced some fantastic new creatures, and Scanlan has once again found himself in the middle of an Oscar nomination. Here’s hoping that he and his team brings the trophy home for what is arguably the greatest film to hit the big-screen in 20 years.