Who is Babu Frik, and is Babu Frik in ‘The Mandalorian’?
Regardless of your visceral reaction to The Rise of Skywalker, one of the few things most Star Wars fans agree on is that Babu Frick is amazing. Standing not quite nine inches tall, he’s a smart little guy who knows more about droids than we may ever fully appreciate. And when he says “Uh oh,” it makes you want to protect him with your life. Especially when you learn that J.J. Abrams wanted to him to die.
Thanks to Steven Spielberg and The Mandalorian season 3, Babu Frik will live longer than his cameos in The Rise of Skywalker. Need a refresher on Babu Frik before his return in The Mandalorian? Hey, heeeeeeey! Read on.
Babu Frik in Star Wars canon
According to the Star Wars Visual Dictionary, Babu Frik is an Anzellan male who lived during the New Republic Era. He worked as a droidsmith in his own shop on Kijimi, where he developed the skill to modify any droid system, even circumventing security measures installed by manufacturers.
Babu Frick worked with the Spice Runners of Kijimi, alongside Zorii Bliss and Poe Dameron. That was before the Cold War (29 ABY–34 ABY), the period of geopolitical tension between the New Republic and the First Order. In The Rise of Skywalker, he assisted Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron when he hacked C-3PO’s memory to translate the Sith text that revealed the coordinates to a Sith wayfinder.
Babu Frik speaks Basic with an Anzellan accent and a broken syntax that makes his speech unmistakably his own. In The Rise of Skywalker, Zorii Bliss can easily communicate with him, but Rey seemingly cannot.
Babu Frik behind the scenes
During production, Babu Frik was the brainchild of several parents. Creature designer and sculptor Ivan Manzella told the Force Material podcast that when he was designing Babu Frik, he was inspired by Victor Wong’s character Egg Shen in the John Carpenter film Big Trouble in Little China. Creature and makeup effects supervisor Neal Scanlan, who worked on all five Star Wars feature films since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, described his inspiration as coming from memories of actor Ernest Borgnine’s expressive range.
Babu Frik was brought to life by Shirley Henderson, who played Moaning Mrytle in the Harry Potter films. The puppet was already in progress when Henderson was cast. Henderson told Vanity Fair that designers created a model for her and the puppeteers “to learn and discover how Babu moved, and the kind of voice he had and the language he used.” She worked with dialect coach Jill McCullough on the voice that is now immediately recognizable as Babu Frik. “I would offer up vocal suggestions and sounds and ticks, and she would remind me of them … so that we could, on any filming day, source all these bits of Babu at a second’s notice. His voice was just a feeling I looked for inside when trying to speak as him.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, sound editor Matthew Wood of Skywalker Sound credited Henderson with learning to puppeteer “so she could improv and actually move the character’s mouth. She was puppeteering while she was doing the improv for the character. We preserved all of her production sounds, and that was entirely shot on set, live, with her own movement.”
Babu Frik in The Mandalorian season 3
During the Mando+ panel at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim back in May 2022, John Favreau and Dave Filoni shared a teaser for The Mandalorian season 3. That teaser included a clip, which was also used in the official trailer, showing two Anzellan characters. In Chapter 17 (season 3, episode 1), “The Apostate,” Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) brings Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) to the workshop of three Anzellean droidsmiths. Alas, none of them are Babu Frik. The end credits confirm that they although they are not named, all of the Anzellan characters were voiced by Shirley Henderson.
(featured image: Lucasfilm)
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