Star Wars Labyrinth tribute

Though The Muppets creator Jim Henson never officially worked on a Star Wars movie, he did work with George Lucas on the 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth. And it turns out that Neal Scanlan, the creature and special make-up effects creative supervisor for the five most recent Star Wars films, also worked on Labyrinth in the early days of his career as an effects artist.

With that cinematic connection in mind, Scanlan reveals that he and his team embedded a Labyrinth tribute in last year’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, paying homage to Henson and the movie’s big furry creature Ludo.

Ludo Labyrinth

Star Wars Labyrinth Tribute

Yahoo spoke with Scanlan to promote The Rise of Skywalker‘s release on digital and home video, and the effects maestro talked about slipping a subtle Labyrinth reference into the final entry of the Skywalker Saga: “I worked on Sir Didymus during Labyrinth, and I remember watching the character, Ludo, being built. I remember Ludo coming together, and Jim seeing him. When it came time to do The Rise of Skywalker, I said, ‘Why don’t we do a version of that?'”

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen Labyrinth, Sir Didymus is the energetic little ball of fur on the far left side of that image above, while Ludo is the hulking friendly beast in the background.

Yahoo has a photo of what Scanlan’s homage looked like in The Rise of Skywalker:

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker Ludoesque creature

Here’s the weird part – Scanlan seems to suggest that this new version of Ludo did not make it into the Star Wars film’s final cut:

“To my knowledge, he didn’t make the movie. He may be in the Kijimi bar momentarily. If he is, some fan might pick up on it, and say, ‘Oh, that looks like Ludo.’ And they’d be right! He was envisaged the same way and performed in exactly the same way, because that technology was amazing in its day and still is, in my opinion.”

The Ludoesque creature is, in fact, in the movie. Here’s a screenshot from around the 48:30 mark:

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker Henson tribute creature

You’d think Scanlan would know which of his creatures made it into the movie, but perhaps he’s crafted so many over the past five films that they’re all starting to blend together. Scanlan expressed a desire for the creature to pop up some day, maybe even in another Star Wars project: “…it would be wonderful for my crew’s work to be seen, because everyone puts so much of their life into it. My hope is that in the worlds we go to visit and the stories we hope to cover, some of these characters that we haven’t seen, or have seen only a small amount, will have a legitimate role in the storytelling process.” Whether or not that creature will ever pop up again is an open question, but at least Mr. Scanlan can sleep soundly knowing that his and his team’s work is actually visible in the final cut.

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