The Animal Inspirations Behind These 'Star Wars' Creatures

The adorable porgs from 'The Last Jedi' were actually created to solve a problem caused by a species here on Earth. . (Photo: Lucasfilm)

If you've seen "The Last Jedi,", you've likely already spied a few of the bizarre and imaginative creatures in the "Star Wars" universe. As you might expect, many of these alien species, from the graceful fathiers to the enigmatic caretakers, have physical characteristics inspired by life here on Earth.

Below are just a few of the cute, bizarre and beautiful alien faces featured in "The Last Jedi."


The porgs on Ahch-To were inspired by puffins dotting the planet's setting of Skellig Michael island.
The porgs on Ahch-To were inspired by puffins dotting the planet's setting of Skellig Michael island. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

Porgs, those wide-eyed cute fur balls that won over even the most jaded "Star Wars" fans, came about due to a problem that director Rian Johnson ran into while filming on Skellig Michael off the coast of Ireland. Much to his dismay, the island, which stands in for the alien planet of Ahch-To, was absolutely covered in small birds called puffins.

"From what I gathered, Rian, in a positive spin on this, was looking at how can he work with this," designer Jake Lunt Davies, a creature concept developer for "Last Jedi," told "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. And so I think he thought, 'Well, that's great, let's have our own indigenous species.'"

Davies added that he came up with the porg that later came to life in the movie after only a few sketches. "It was influenced by a seal and a pug dog and the puffin," he said. "The big eyes of a seal or the big eyes of a pug dog and the sort of funny, ugly face [of a pug]."


The Thala-Sirens, with their large flippers and thick blubber, were inspired by basking seals.
The Thala-Sirens, with their large flippers and thick blubber, were inspired by basking seals. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

One the more amusing scenes in "The Last Jedi" is when Luke Skywalker approaches a sea-sow basking on some rocks, squeezes green milk from it, and then promptly drinks the liquid.

As was later disclosed, these strange, giant marine mammals are called Thala-Sirens. According to the Star Wars "Visual Dictionary," they are docile, spending their days sunning themselves. They are also not hunted and, subsequently, do not fear other species native to Ahch-To.

"The whole idea was that by only seeing their heads and neck, that you would get this feeling that they were like basking seals, that these creatures would come to the shore at a certain time each day and just enjoy the sunlight before returning back to the sea," concept designer concept designer Neal Scanlan told IGN. "And that was a time when Mark [Hamill] gathered his daily nutrients."


The crystalline vultpex in 'The Last Jedi' is the latest fascinating creature to come from the 'Star Wars' universe. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

As the Resistance quickly discovered, the Rebel base they thought abandoned on the mineral planet of Crait was actually inhabited by a crystalline, fox-like creature known as a vulptex.

"The theory is they've fed off this planet for so long that their fur has become crystalline," Scanlan told Empire. "They've taken on the very surface of the planet they live on."

While the movements of the vulptex was based on a dog, its look was likely modeled after the culpeo, a fox that feeds on rabbits and other rodents around the salt flat where the scene for "Jedi" was filmed.

"It was just a logical thing of how would a creature evolve on that planet," he told "The idea of it being kind of a crystal chandelier with fur seemed really beautiful and worked with the story."


'The Last Jedi's' fathiers were inspired by characteristics of both lions and horses.
The fathiers were inspired by characteristics of both lions and horses. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

Fathiers, a breed of racing animals, originally were conceptualized as having the head of a hammer head shark and the elongated neck of a giraffe. Johnson decided to give them more warmth by moving the eyes to the front and covering them in fur.

"The instant you see the fathiers, you need to feel sympathy for them — to feel like you want to help them. It's a tough thing to communicate, design-wise," he revealed in "The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi."

According to Neal Scanlon, the creature designers channeled "the power and majestic quality that one might find in a male lion and also beauty in their equine aspects" to bring the fathiers to life.

"They're amazing creatures," he added.


The caretakers on Ahch-To were inspired by fish, puffins, and nuns.
The caretakers on Ahch-To were inspired by fish, puffins — and nuns. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

Perhaps the most unusual new additions to the "Star Wars" family are the caretakers, a species of nun-like creatures that care for the Jedi temple on the planet of Ahch-To.

"Personality-wise, I wanted the Caretakers to feel like nuns — to feel disapproving," Johnson explained. "But I didn't say 'Make them fish people'. That's just the direction they ended up going in."

According to designer Lunt Davies, the director did give one hint as to what the caretakers should look like: puffin people.

"We started to look at aquatic animals," he told "The color ways of puffins combined with aquatic animals, I suppose. And I drew lots of things that were riffing off walruses and seals and whales."

About the only thing that the caretakers ended up receiving from their puffin brethren were a pair of thin bird legs.

"What you end up with, and what I liked about the Caretakers, is that you have this very chunky and, again, quite simple shaped upper body, and tiny, little, thin legs," added Lunt Davies.