The Last Jedi gave the galaxy far, far away some wild new aliens, with everything from the loveable Porgs to the stunning Falthiers. But one of the weirdest has become a hot talking point after the release of the movie, despite a relatively brief appearance – and actually getting that appearance filmed seems like it was a monumental task.
The Last Jedi‘s radical deconstruction of long-revered establishments in the Star Wars mythos has courted some serious discord from fans (which, with Star Wars, is a tale as old as time), but bizzarely enough, one scene that has been latched on to in post-release discussion is at first a seemingly insignificant one. A moment where, as Rey studiously follows him across the Ahch-To island he’s exiled himself to, Luke Skywalker starts his depressing daily routine by casually filling up, and then swigging from, a bottle of Thala-Siren milk, freshly squeezed from one of the creature’s giant teats as it sits upon the island shore.
It’s a strange image, sure – and perhaps if you were expecting Rey to find a sage, welcoming Jedi Master in Luke during The Last Jedi, the sight of him instead grinning at her as as Thala-Siren milk dribbles down his beard is a little disconcerting. But what’s even stranger still is how the scene was filmed… and the fact that there were actually two people sitting inside that Thala-Siren while Luke partook in his liquid breakfast. In fact, locked inside it, after the elaborate prop was helicoptered to the remote location. That’s according to a new interview with Last Jedi creature designer Neal Scanlan who told Collider about the whole process of actually filming the scene on location at Skellig Michael:
It was something that Rian wanted to shoot in the location, for real. We actually built that animatronic puppet, back at Pinewood, we transported it to ILM, and we flew it into that location with a helicopter. Once it was in the location, we locked two puppeteers inside there. The head opened a little bit, two puppeteers got inside, we put the head back up, and we sealed it with a prosthetic band that went around the side. And then, there were two puppeteers that operated the flippers on the outside, and a couple of other puppets in the background. We were set and ready for the arrival of the film crew, and we had a window that we knew we had to meet.
It was designed to be able to breathe and there was a milk delivery system, on the inside. The guys on the inside could see what was happening on the outside, through monitors and a walkie system that we had, and Mark literally walked up, bent down, and milked his sea-sow. It made a lovely tasting drink, by the way. It wasn’t as disgusting as it looked. They CG-ed a tint on it, in the end, to make it look even more disgusting. It was wonderful to be there and to do it for real, amongst the elements.
God, can you imagine being locked inside that giant thing, surrounded by monitors, animatronics, and what I’m assuming can only be an elaborate milk delivery system, and then having to wait in the freezing elements for everyone else to show up and film the scene? The scene in which you have to deliver milk to Mark Hamill through an alien teat? At least, allegedly, said milk was not as bad as it ultimately looked in the film.
So if you’re somehow still not over noted-alien-milk drinker Luke Skywalker chugging on some fresh Thala-Siren juice the next time you watch The Last Jedi, try to imagine how the two poor guys trapped inside that alien beastie trying to feed milk through to a waiting Mark Hamill must have felt. It will probably make it… worse? Yeah, let’s go with worse.