Wednesday, August 12, 2015

J.J. Abrams Talks Character Name Origins In 'The Force Awakens'

By: Benjamin Hart

What's in a name? No, better question; what's in a Star Wars name? It seems every Star Wars character, whether they get two hours or two seconds of screen time, has a name, and each of those names has a story and sometimes a meaning behind it. Han Solo is, well, solo. Greedo is greedy. And Darth Maul... well, you get the picture. But there are some characters whose name origins aren't fleshed out just yet, such as newcomers from The Force Awakens. Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren and others all captured our attentions and imaginations. Where did these names come from and what do they mean. We may finally have the answer to those questions thanks to J.J. Abrams.

The director and co-writer recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly amidst a blitz of new photos and information the magazine revealed today.

First off, he wouldn't give any hints about the stories behind the names "Rey" and "Finn" but did confirm that there is a reason for their lack of surnames, saying; “I will only say about that that it is completely intentional that their last names aren’t public record.” But what he didn't reveal about Finn and Rey, he made up for by introducing a brand new character. Among the images EW released earlier today, one intriguing photo(below) showed Rey cutting BB-8 loose from a net carried by small Alien on an unfamiliar mount. That Alien's name is Teedo, and EW confirms that he is a scavenger on Jakku who finds and captures BB-8, who is subsequently rescued by Rey, seen here.

The creature he is riding is called a "Luggabeast", a brand new species in Star Wars canon. (Some fans pointed out that the device on the animal's head looks a lot like the cockpit of an AT-DP.) Veteran actor Kiran Shah, know for his roles in Lord Of The Rings and Superman, plays Teedo. 58-year-old Kenyan-Indian actor is not new to Star Wars, having portrayed an Ewok and a Droid in Return Of The Jedi.

Further, Abrams confirms previous speculation that his assistant, Morgan Dameron, was at least part of the inspiration behind X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron's name, adding:

“Dameron came out because it was, obviously, a name that I know, and it just musically felt right. There was no sort of deep reasoning behind it, and I also knew it would make Morgan blush if we named a character that. So she had this giant smile on her face... We kept it for awhile, and it just stuck like things that work seem to."

And about "Poe", he added:

“We went through a bunch of different names, and Poe ultimately felt like the right name. Someone reminded me recently that my daughter had had a polar bear named Poe [or Po’ — short for “polar”], and that might’ve been why it felt right. There was a kind of sweetness to, and a charm to that name.”

About BB-8, J.J. denies that the Droid gets it's name from colleague and Episode VII producer Byran Burk. Rather, he recounts BB-8 looked "round and bouncy" to him:

“I named him BB-8 because it was almost onomatopoeia. It was sort of how he looked to me, with the 8, obviously, and then the 2 B’s.”

On Domhnall Gleeson's General Hux, Abrams seems unclear about the name's origin. He remarks that Hux is "young for a general" and is "longing to reveal the full might of The First Order’s military power to an unsuspecting galaxy." About the name, he adds:

“Larry and I would walk all over the place when we were breaking the story, and we would record our conversations. We were walking through a cemetery that’s near the Bad Robot offices, and we would often, as we were talking about characters, sort of just be glancing at names to see if any of them stuck. I don’t believe that Hux came from there, but it may have.”

And apparently, Captain Phasma gets her name from the 1979 horror film Phantasm.

“Phasma I named because of the amazing chrome design that came from Michael Kaplan’s wardrobe team. It reminded me of the ball in Phantasm, and I just thought, Phasma sounds really cool.”

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