Jabba the Hutt is the very definition of unsavory. The character from Star Wars is shady, he’s essentially a mob boss, and his giant slug-like body is gross. But if you can look past his completely unappealing traits, you can see and appreciate the amount of work that went into creating and operating Jabba in Return of the Jedi.
Jamie Benning recently interviewed puppeteer Toby Philpott, one of the three men who crawled inside the Hutt to bring him to life. Benning decided to share the interview with the world by releasing a 20 minute documentary in which he cut together Philpott’s words with sketches and behind-the-scenes footage. “Slimy Piece of Worm-Ridden Filth – Life Inside Jabba the Hutt” is utterly captivating. It’s fascinating to see the unglamorous but effective methods used to make Jabba move – even if you’ve seen it before.
Philpott discusses the great expense and effort of building Jabba and goes into detail about the efford required to make him seem real. Besides the three men inside the suit, more crew members were required to do things like blow smoke and add goop to Jabba’s mouth and nose. Philpott also speaks about the challenges of creating the proper movements for Jabba despite the fact that he couldn’t really see. There’s an especially interesting anecdote about trying to get the frog into Jabba’s mouth. I knew it was a complicated maneuver but didn’t fully comprehend the planning involved for such a quick shot.
The documentary reminds me of the 1983 television documentary titled Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi but with more depth. You can see more of Benning’s “filmumentaries” at his website.