Sometimes it pays to have critics with eagle eyes in the audience.
Drew McWeeny of Hitfix.com was one of the few movie writers who stayed in the theatre until the end of the credits at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere on Monday night, and as the names rolled past, something caught his attention.
In the almost-endless stream of actors, crew members, animators and digital professionals, two names were listed next to the title “BB-8 Vocal Consultant”: Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz.
Hader is known for his work on Saturday Night Live (Stefon, anyone?) and Schwartz was the hilarious Jean-Ralphio on Parks and Recreation.
But what, exactly, is a “vocal consultant”? And isn’t BB-8 a droid? Doesn’t he just make beep and blip sounds?
McWeeny reached out to Hader for clarification, and the SNL actor responded with this: “JJ f–king around with this sound effects app on his iPad that was attached to a talk box operated by me. It looked ridiculous but it made BB-8’s voice. At first I tried doing a voice, but we all agreed it sounded too human.”
Schwartz was more relieved to finally admit his secret.
While Hader’s description isn’t exactly detailed, it seems likely that BB-8’s “voice” is similar to how R2-D2’s sounds were created. Global News chatted with Anthony Daniels, who plays C-3PO, and he told us how it was done:
“Ben Burtt [sound designer for Star Wars] came up with this clever idea for R2’s soundtrack. He whistled, and then he got his baby to gurgle. He mixed all those sounds with the synchronized sounds, and what the audience gets, and recognizes, is the human element. In a way, R2 is almost anthropomorphized and it draws you in.”
Hader and Schwartz’s voices were most likely mixed with synthesized sounds to ultimately create the lovable droid’s expressions. This is merely the first of many revelations about the production of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which has been strictly under wraps.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ opens in theatres on Dec. 18.