Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lucasfilm Vault: ILM's Dennis Muren talks about Return of the Jedi's Rancor

In this vintage interview, Dennis Muren of Industrial Light & Magic talks about creating the memorable rancor creature from Return of the Jedi -- and how the original idea for bringing the monster to life didn't work.

Dragonslayer, which Muren had just finished working on, used new Go-Motion technology and had proved expensive; thus, there was an effort to keep the cost down for Return of the Jedi. George Lucas suggested creating the rancor as a man in a suit, and Phil Tippett had the idea of having one person inside the creature, with two other people on the sides manipulating the arms, matted out. But it didn't work. "You can't fool people with that stuff," Muren says.

They then decided on the idea of using an 18-inch tall rod puppet. It was worked from below, controlled by four to five puppeteers, animating the head, arms, and body. The set was miniature, and the sequence was shot live-action style or even backwards -- anything to "get it away from a Muppet look."

While you don't see the rancor completely, or see it walking, the scene still works. "You didn't really need to show any more than we did," Muren says.

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