It turns out, the plethora of Porgs seen in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” weren’t just created by Disney to sell a ton of merchandise.
That’s according to Jake Lunt, “creator concept designer” on Episode VIII, who said the cute new character was created to digitally cover the many puffins on the island where Luke Skywalker had been hanging out all these years. He filled in StarWars.com on the genesis of the Porgs, saying the puffins were a “source of inspiration” for director Rian Johnson:
“From what I gathered, Rian [Johnson] had gone to shoot this sequence on Skellig Michael, which is the real island location that stands in for Ahch-To, and that island is covered in puffins. It’s a wildlife preserve and everywhere you look there are hundreds of birds dotted around the landscape,” said Lunt. “Rian, in a positive spin on this, was looking at how can he work with this. You can’t remove them. You physically can’t get rid of them. And digitally removing them is an issue and a lot of work, so let’s just roll with it, play with it.”
Lunt said Johnson wanted to create the island’s “own indigenous species,” after they’d already started work on the Caretakers — the fish-bird-like aliens who live there. “We’d just been told ‘puffin people.’ Yeah, there was going to be this race of people and puffins again were a source of inspiration for Rian. The puffins were sort of a big influence on everything, really.”
Johnson has weighed in on the puffin-to-Porgs process recently, too, saying they were “part of the island” and added a bit of “comic relief.”
“I was like, ‘Oh, this is part of the island, we need to find the ‘Star Wars’ version of this,” said Johnson, according to Cinemablend. “And then just story-wise — not that they play a big part in the story — but I knew I wanted to find any source of comic relief I could on the island. And so they were very useful in terms of that.”
Most “Star Wars” fanboys have probably already checked on this, but if you’re dying to get some of that puffin inspiration like Johnson did, the island where it was shot, Skellig Michael (population: 0), is located off the west coast of Ireland.