Supreme Leader Snoke

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Supreme Leader Snoke
Star Wars character
Snoke-The Force Awakens (2015).png
Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens
First appearance The Force Awakens (2015)
Created by
Portrayed by Andy Serkis
Information
Gender Male
Affiliation First Order

Supreme Leader Snoke is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise. Snoke is the leader of the First Order, a military junta resurrected from the fallen Galactic Empire, which seeks to reclaim control of the galaxy. Powerful with the Force, he has seduced Ben Solo to the dark side. Introduced in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he is a CGI character voiced and performed by Andy Serkis.

Character[edit]

Development[edit]

Snoke's appearance changed throughout principal photography and post-production of The Force Awakens. Serkis said, "It's the first time I've been on set not yet knowing what the character's gonna look like. I mean, talk about secrecy!" According to the actor, the character's appearance, voice, and movements evolved as he and the film's writer/director J. J. Abrams challenged the visual effects team.[1]

The Force Awakens senior sculptor Ivan Manzella wrote in The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that "Snoke almost became a female at one point. J. J. picked out a maquette he liked and then we took it to a full-size version, sculpted in plasteline. J. J. and [creature creative supervisor Neal Scanlan] didn't want him to be old and decrepit, like the Emperor."[2]

Portrayal[edit]

Andy Serkis portrays Snoke in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

While Serkis secretly joined the project in February 2014,[3] his casting in The Force Awakens was first announced on April 29, 2014.[4][5] When asked about his role in July 2014, he joked, "I'm not Yoda."[6] In May 2015, a StarWars.com interview with photographer Annie Leibovitz about her The Force Awakens shoot for Vanity Fair revealed that Serkis would be playing a CGI character named Supreme Leader Snoke, and featured an image of the actor in motion capture gear.[7] Serkis had previously played several CGI characters, including Gollum in The Lord of the Rings film series (2001–2003), the titular ape in 2005's King Kong, and Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and its 2014 sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.[8]

In November 2015, Serkis said of the process of creating Snoke:

When we first started working on it, [Abrams] had some rough notions of how Snoke was gonna look, but it really hadn't been fully-formed and it almost came out of discussion and performance ... We shot on set of course, and I was in the scenes I have with other actors, but the beauty of this process is you can go back and reiterate, keep informing and honing beats and moments. So J.J., after we shot last year, we've had a series of sessions where I'd be in London at The Imaginarium, my studio, while he’s been directing from L.A., and we've literally been creating further additions and iterations to the character. That's been fascinating. And in the meantime I've been able to see the look and design of the character grow and change as the performances change. So it's been really exciting in that respect.[1]

According to Serkis's costar Lupita Nyong'o, who played the CGI character Maz Kanata in The Force Awakens, the actor coached her on performance-capture work, telling Nyong'o that "a motion-capture character you develop the same way as any other. You have to understand who the character is and what makes them who they are."[9] Serkis said of filming:

It was quite an unusual situation. I worked specifically with Domhnall Gleeson and with Adam Driver. My first day was basically standing on a 25-foot podium doing Lord Snoke without the faintest idea what he looked like ... or in fact who he was! I was very high up, totally on my own, away from everybody else, but acting with them ... we used sort of a "Kongolizer" method of having sound come out of speakers to give a sense of scale and distance for the character. So it was very challenging and scary, in fact probably one of my most scary film experiences I’ve ever had.[10]

Description[edit]

Snoke, whom Abrams called "a powerful figure on the Dark Side of the Force", is the political leader of the sinister First Order,[11] he is master to the film's primary villain, dark side practitioner Kylo Ren.[12] Serkis described Snoke as "quite an enigmatic character, and strangely vulnerable at the same time as being quite powerful. Obviously he has a huge agenda, he has suffered a lot of damage."[1] Serkis called Snoke "a new character in this universe", adding "I think it'd be fair to say that he is aware of the past to a great degree."[1]

Explaining why CGI was the only way to create Snoke's unique appearance, Serkis said before the film's premiere, "The scale of him, for instance, is one reason, he is large. He appears tall. And also just the facial design—you couldn't have gotten there with prosthetics ... he has a very distinctive, idiosyncratic bone and facial structure."[1] Chief of creature and droid effects Neal Scanlan said, "This character is much better executed as a CGI character. That's just a practical reality when he's 7-foot-something tall; he's very, very thin."[13] Snoke's "scarred, cavernous face" was not revealed before the release of the film, in which he appears as a "massive, ominous hologram",[14] the character's deep voice was first heard in the teaser trailer released on November 28, 2014.[1][15][16]

Robbie Collin of The Telegraph described the disfigured and skeletal Snoke as a "sepulchral horror",[17] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times called him "hissing and grotesque",[18] and Andrew O'Hehir of Salon dubbed the character "a spectral demonic figure".[19] Variety's Justin Chang wrote that Snoke resembled "a plus-sized, more articulate Gollum",[20] and Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly described him as "essentially Emperor Palpatine crossed with one of the aliens from Close Encounters".[21] Stephanie Zacharek of Time called the character "a giant, scary, noseless dude who sits placidly in an oversized chair like a dark-lord version of the Lincoln Monument."[12]

There are multiple fan theories regarding the origins and identity of Snoke, including that he may be: Darth Plagueis, a Sith Lord and the master of Palpatine, anecdotally mentioned in Revenge of the Sith who possesses the power to prevent death;[22][23][24] "the Operator" Gallius Rax, a mysterious First Order manipulator from Chuck Wendig's Aftermath novel trilogy;[25] or Ezra Bridger, a main character from the animated series Star Wars Rebels.[26][27][28] Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group dismissed the Darth Plagueis theory in May 2016,[29] and Rax's death in the 2017 novel Aftermath: Empire's End disproved that theory as well.[30]

Appearances[edit]

The Force Awakens (2015)[edit]

In the film, Snoke is introduced as Supreme Leader of the First Order, and master to Kylo Ren. Seduced to the dark side by Snoke, the masked Kylo is really Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa. Snoke senses an "awakening" in the Force, and warns an unsteady Kylo that the limits of his power will be tested when he faces his father in pursuit of the wayward droid BB-8. Leia reveals to her estranged husband Han that it was Snoke's influence which corrupted their son.

Related works[edit]

Snoke appears in the 2015 novelization of The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster;[31] in the novel, Leia tells Han in more detail how Snoke, aware that their son would be "strong with the Force" and possess "equal potential for good or evil", had long watched Ben and manipulated events to draw him to the dark side.[32] A Lego minifigure version of Snoke appears in cutscenes in the 2016 video game Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and is not a playable character.

The Last Jedi (2017)[edit]

In December 2015, producer Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that Serkis was among those who would reprise their roles in the forthcoming sequel to The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.[33] Jason Ward of MakingStarWars.net reported in December 2016 that Snoke would be portrayed in part by a large, articulated puppet in the film.[34] Director Rian Johnson commented that in The Last Jedi, "We'll learn exactly as much about Snoke as we need to. We will see more of him, and Andy Serkis will get to do much more in this film than he did in the last one."[35] Johnson also noted that Snoke will be protected by Praetorian Guards, who are more like Samurai than the Emperor's Royal Guards from the original trilogy.[35]

Reception[edit]

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Supreme Leader Snoke is a larger-than-life, vaguely Harry Potter-ish hologram voiced with deep gravity by Andy Serkis; the full weight of this character's malignancy and dramatic power will presumably be better assessed in subsequent episodes."[36] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times called Serkis "the undisputed champion of the performance-capture roles".[18] Though praising the "unobtrusive sophistication" of the visual effects used to portray the character, Variety's Justin Chang said that Serkis is "fine but not galvanizing" in the role.[20] Lindsay Bahr of the Associated Press deemed Snoke one of the "less memorable" characters in the film.[37]

Serkis was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Virtual Performance for the role.[38]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Breznican, Anthony (November 12, 2015). "Supreme Leader Snoke: Andy Serkis on the 'damaged' villain of Star Wars: The Force Awakens". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 13, 2015. 
  2. ^ Hawkes, Rebecca (January 5, 2016). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: 12 things they cut from the film". The Telegraph. Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  3. ^ Kit, Borys (April 30, 2014). "How Star Wars Director J.J. Abrams Kept the Cast Secret". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Star Wars: Episode VII Cast Announced". StarWars.com. April 29, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2015. 
  5. ^ Hipes, Patrick (April 29, 2014). "Star Wars: Episode VII Cast Finalized: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson & Max Von Sydow". Deadline.com. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  6. ^ Karlin, Lily (July 11, 2014). "5 Things You Didn't Know About Andy Serkis, AKA Caesar From Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  7. ^ Brooks, Dan (May 28, 2015). "Capturing a Galaxy: An Interview with Annie Leibovitz". StarWars.com. Retrieved January 23, 2017. 
  8. ^ McLean, Craig (July 12, 2014). "The evolution of Andy Serkis". The Independent. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  9. ^ Breznican, Anthony (November 12, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: J.J. Abrams reveals backstory of alien Maz Kanata". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  10. ^ Thrower, Emma (November 17, 2015). "Supreme Leader Snoke: Andy Serkis talks Star Wars' latest villain". Empire. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  11. ^ Dyer, James (August 25, 2015). "JJ Abrams Spills Details On Kylo Ren". Empire. Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Zacharek, Stephanie (December 15, 2015). "Review: The Force Awakens Is Everything You Could Hope for in a Star Wars Movie—and Less". Time. Retrieved December 16, 2015. 
  13. ^ Tauber, Chris (December 5, 2015). "Who's the Real Bad Guy in Star Wars: The Force Awakens?". People. Retrieved February 5, 2017. 
  14. ^ Breznican, Anthony (January 2, 2016). "See exclusive new images of Maz Kanata and Supreme Leader Snoke from Star Wars: The Force Awakens". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  15. ^ Schuth, Louie (May 28, 2015). "Andy Serkis' Star Wars: The Force Awakens character revealed". Hypable.com. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  16. ^ Lewis, Andy (December 1, 2014). "Trailer Report: Star Wars Teaser Beats Age of Ultron In Debut". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 25, 2017. 
  17. ^ Collin, Robbie (December 18, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens review: 'the magic is back'". The Telegraph. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Roeper, Richard (December 15, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The thrills are strong with this one". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 16, 2015. 
  19. ^ O'Hehir, Andrew (December 16, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: You know all the spoilers in J.J. Abrams’ obsessive reboot — because you’ve seen this movie before". Salon. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  20. ^ a b Chang, Justin (December 15, 2015). "J. J. Abrams' hugely anticipated blockbuster brings welcome jolts of energy, warmth and excitement back to the biggest franchise in movie history". Variety. Retrieved December 16, 2015. 
  21. ^ Nashawaty, Chris (December 16, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: A 'rollicking adventure wrapped in epic mythology'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 19, 2016. 
  22. ^ Trumbore, Dave (December 21, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Theories on Supreme Leader Snoke". Collider.com. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  23. ^ Tremeer, Eleanor (December 28, 2015). "Supreme Leader Snoke's Role In Star Wars Episode 8 Revealed By John Williams?!". Moviepilot. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  24. ^ Maharana, Kabita (December 29, 2015). "Star Wars 8: Fan theories about Rey's origin and Supreme Leader Snoke's identity". International Business Times. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  25. ^ Tremeer, Eleanor (August 29, 2016). "Supreme Leader Snoke Origins Revealed In Star Wars 7 Book Aftermath?". Moviepilot. Retrieved January 23, 2017. 
  26. ^ Myrick, Robert (January 22, 2016). "Why It Makes Sense For Star Wars Rebels' Ezra Bridger To Be Supreme Leader Snoke". Moviepilot. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  27. ^ "Even More Evidence That Ezra From Star Wars: Rebels Is Supreme Leader Snoke". Moviepilot. July 18, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  28. ^ Williams, Claire. "TheoryLoop: Is Ezra Bridger really Supreme Leader Snoke?". Looper. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  29. ^ Siegel, Lucas (May 10, 2016). "Star Wars Story Group Definitively Says Supreme Leader Snoke is Not Darth Plagueis". Comicbook.com. Retrieved March 1, 2017. 
  30. ^ Gardner, Kate (March 7, 2017). "What the Aftermath Trilogy Tells About Star Wars: The Last Jedi". Screen Rant. Retrieved March 14, 2017. 
  31. ^ Foster, Alan Dean (2015). "Chapter X". The Force Awakens (e-book). ISBN 978-1-101-96550-4. 
  32. ^ Foster (2015). "Chapter XIV". The Force Awakens. 
  33. ^ Ruby, Jennifer (December 17, 2015). "Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy confirms that entire cast will return for eighth film". London Evening Standard. Retrieved December 17, 2015. 
  34. ^ Ward, Jason (December 8, 2016). "Star Wars: Episode VIII's Supreme Leader Snoke: Master of Puppets!". MakingStarWars.net. Retrieved January 23, 2017. 
  35. ^ a b Harrington, Neil (August 10, 2017). "Supreme Leader Snoke will step out of the shadows in The Last Jedi". Dork Side of the Force. Retrieved August 11, 2017. 
  36. ^ McCarthy, Todd (December 16, 2015). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  37. ^ Bahr, Lindsey (December 16, 2015). "Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Is Fun Fan Service". Tribune-Star. Associated Press. Retrieved February 6, 2017. 
  38. ^ Lovett, Jamie (March 8, 2016). "Deadpool, Avengers, And Star Wars Nominated For MTV Movie Awards". Comicbook.com. Retrieved February 6, 2017. 

External links[edit]