Actress Shirley Henderson Learned Puppetry And Invented A Language To Play Babu Frik in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’

Every new Star Wars film brings a plethora of new, adorable, and often not so adorable creatures and droids into the universe. The creature designers sure know how to make ugly look cute. The ninth and last film in the ‘Skywalker Saga’, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is not exception with the introduction of “cone-faced” droid D-0, and the giant slug-like creature, Klaud. But the most endearing new character is the droidsmith Babu Frik. The character, who’s cuteness is being shared across social media, was brought to life through a combination of practical effects and voice work by actress Shirley Henderson.

The legendary Frank Oz, gets well-deserved kudos for his puppetry and voice work for Yoda. But Henderson, best known for her portrayal of Moaning Mrytle in the Harry Potter series, had to not only learn puppetry for her part, but invented the diminutive character’s language.

The film’s sound editor, Matthew Wood, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about Henderson’s multi-talented use of improvisation and puppetry on the set:

“So she could improv and actually move the character’s mouth,” he said. “She was puppeteering while she was doing the improv for the character. She came up with that language and performed it that way. We preserved all of her production sounds, and that was entirely shot on set, live, with her own movement.”

Henderson was so good, that Wood really didn’t have that much to do. In comparison, Baby Yoda required more sound editing magic despite only making sounds, rather than language,

Sound editor Dave Accord combined the sounds of two animals to create the vocalization of the The Mandalorian‘s cute character. “I was recording animals at this wildlife rescue outside of San Diego,” the editor revealed to THR. “Two of the animals I recorded had this really cute, almost childlike quality to them. One was a bat-eared fox and one is a kinkajou.”

The result is two characters have erased the cute Porgs from memory. No doubt the same will happen to both Babu Frik and Baby Yoda as the Star Wars universe expands.

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