Over the course of filming for Star Wars: Episode VIII sources kept saying we were going to be really impressed with Snoke in this film. It was clear they were saying something was different about him. If you recall in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Supreme Leader Snoke was a giant hologram towering over the likes of Kylo Ren and his “frienemy” General Hux. The controversy amongst fans wavered back and forth regarding his height. Was Snoke seven and a half feet tall? Was Snoke huge? Was Snoke like the fraud at the end of The Wizard of Oz and just the man behind the curtain?
For Star Wars: Episode VIII it appears, at least in part, that Snoke will not be a character generated in a computer. Instead he will be a huge puppet around seven to eight feet tall, taking several people to operate and a man inside a suit to make him walk. Stylistically, it seems as if Snoke may be CGI generated for the holographic communication sequences, but when he has scenes in Episode VIII next to real flesh-and-blood humans like Kylo Ren he will be a practical puppet with facial features operated by the crew.
In the past many have wondered if Snoke was someone we had seen on screen before. It seems somewhat unlikely considering his size. His arms alone give off the impression he is not exactly human as they are unnaturally long and unsettling. His appearance is identical to what we saw in the holograms but there’s apparently a “real” Snoke in the next installment of the Skywalker saga.
We don’t know exactly how much screen time Snoke has in Episode VIII and that makes it impossible to say he’s almost always a puppet in the film or CGI. But we do know the puppet is pretty impressive and appears to be articulated in such a way it seems it is more than an elaborate stand-in.
We suspect that the film may show us some of Kylo Ren, General Hux, and Phasma meeting with Snoke after the destruction of Starkiller Base. It has been confirmed that the film begins mere moments after Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With a lot of the film taking place on Ahch-To where Rey and Luke are, it seems as if we might get the juxtaposition of Luke and Rey between Snoke and Kylo. It would seem the puppet Snoke would be more powerful and interesting to look at than a CGI character, of which audiences are continually critiquing the visuals.
In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Unkar Plutt ended up being a guy in a suit augmented by CGI work. Will the puppet Snoke be augmented in such a way as well? I thought a lot of Unkar was really impressive and perhaps we will see such a technique that marries the practical with the digital here.
I am really excited to see a puppet over seven feet in size that might kick Luke Skywalker’s butt. That’s pretty exciting and I can’t wait to learn more about the innovations and new ground transversed by Rian Johnson and the crew of Star Wars: Episode VIII. Just to reiterate, we cannot say what the balance between classic puppetry and CGI are but we do know they built a large impressive rig for Supreme Leader Snoke.