Even their name is cute. Porgs — teensy, tiny, and be-feathered — are the latest creature to enter the sprawling sci-fi “Star Wars” universe, though we can only hope they prove to be as charming as BB-8, and less like Jar Jar Binks. Inspired by the real-life inhabitants of a crucial location from this year’s upcoming “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” the new animals instantly captured hearts after being introduced with not much in the way of fanfare.
Lovingly created by “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson himself, the months since they were first introduced to the Star Wars faithful have only increased demand to know still more about the screaming sea birds and their place in the mythos.
Who are the porgs? Where do they come from? What do they want? And what is the deal with their apparent new best friend? We’ve got some answers.
Our First Look
The sci-fi franchise’s newest creature was absent from early looks at the Johnson-directed feature, and a first teaser — released in April at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando — didn’t include any mention of them, visual or otherwise. Later, it would only take a glimpse at the cute new island-dwellers to get fans hooked.
Porgs were first introduced to the Star Wars masses via a quick shot in a behind the scenes video unveiled in July at Disney’s D23 event. While the video came jam-packed with plenty of new information about the second entry in the franchise, plus plenty of backstage insight and a deeper look at the the expanding mythos, it was a single porg — lovingly gazing up from a work table — that set the fandom on fire. In retrospect, it was kind of like that time BB-8 first rolled out on stage during the first “The Force Awakens” panel, though with much less information to go on.
Here’s the full video:
And for those impatient to relive their first look at the porg elite, here it is in GIF form:
Their Beloved Inventor
Thank Johnson himself for creating the porgs. As the director explained to Yahoo! earlier this year, he was initially inspired to make the creatures when he began filming on the Irish island of Skellig Michael, which stands in as Ahch-To, the site of the first Jedi Temple and Luke Skywalker’s long-time hideout. The small island has lots of interesting wildlife, including puffins, who are the most obvious real-world equivalent of the porgs.
“I was like, ‘Oh, this is part of the island, we need to find the ‘Star Wars’ version of this,” Johnson told the outlet. “And then just story-wise — not that they play a big part in the story — but I knew I wanted to find any source of comic relief I could on the island. And so they were very useful in terms of that.”
Life For a Typical Porg
Like puffins, porgs are sea birds. As Johnson has explained on Twitter earlier this year: “Their coloring varies. Males are slightly larger than females. They can fly short distances. They’re inquisitive.” Later, it was revealed that porgs mostly occupy the cliffs of the island, where they live in nests. And, yes, they make noises, as evidenced in the first full-length trailer for “The Last Jedi.”
Baby porgs are called — brace yourselves — porglets.
How Are They Made?
Post-D23, Lucasfilm Story Group’s Pablo Hidalgo spoke to StarWars.com about the intricacies of creating new characters. When it comes to the porgs, a multi-pronged approach helped bring them to life on the big screen.
“The porgs are realized through a variety of effects, depending on what’s needed,” Hidalgo said. “Sometimes they’re puppets, with the puppeteers digitally removed from the shot. Other times, they’re entirely CG.”
Based on early concept art of the porgs, their signature look didn’t change too much during the course of their creation (and a propensity for screaming appears to be baked right in).
Their Unexpected New Best Friend
Perhaps the most intriguing element of the porgs is that, even with limited looks at their space inside “The Last Jedi,” one thing is very clear: they become fast friends with Chewbacca. The pairing is everywhere, from first-look photos to the latest trailer, both of which show of at least one porg hanging out with Chewie in the Millennium Falcon. Elsewhere, newly released toys feature the porgs and Chewie in tandem, including both a Funko Pop and a more traditional action figure.
Whatever bond Chewie and the porgs develop, it’s apparently deep enough to spawn a book that exists as part of the official Star Wars canon. “Chewie and the Porgs,” a YA novel written by Kevin Shinick with illustrations by Fiona Hsieh will hit shelves on December 15, the same day the film opens, presumably to hold back secrets revealed in its pages. No full-length synopsis has been revealed as of yet, but a short-form one promises “a lovable tale of Chewbacca the Wookiee and the pesky porgs of Ahch-To Island.”
Can You Eat Them?
No, because they are fictional characters that are also totally adorable. But you can make tasty potatoes that look like them.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opens on December 15.