This is an interesting piece of obscure tape – for Sci-Friday #113, watch a documentary about making Jabba the Hutt for Return of the Jedi. From the first time we saw him in RotJ, Jabba Desilijic Tiure quickly established himself as a strangely comic character – half evil, half ridiculous. Now for Sci-Friday, we can see how they made him live, breathe, and lurch back in 1982.
Writing a character is one thing, animating them is another. To crawl inside that car-sized monster, you need a rare talent and for making Jabba the Hutt, Star Wars turned to Toby Philpott. Seven years of work as a comedy juggler, acrobat, and magician led to working on animatronic puppets with Jim Henson on The Dark Crystal. From there, Philpott lent his talents to Return of the Jedi, Labyrinth, Little Shop of Horrors, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
What’s even more interesting is what happened next. Where do you go after making Jabba the Hutt live and breathe? The library, of course! Philpott took a job at Cardiff Central Library as a library technician, where he provides information technology and other computer support; Philpott described the job as a logical move at that stage in his life and according to Wikipedia, “Finding Jabba the Hutt working in a library is no more unusual than the rest of my life.” You can check in with Philpott at his local home site here.
As I said last week, science fiction exists through the collective imagination, blood, sweat, and tears of many people. In this Sci-Friday, Jabba the Hutt live and slug is another example of that journey. Go down the rabbit hole of every other Sci-Friday I’ve published in the past couple years. Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend!