“Part III” of Obi-Wan Kenobi finds our heroes on the planet Mapuzo, where telling friend from foe is hard. Along with other wonderful details, we’re introduced to a new species. Like many in Star Wars, it has some real-life inspiration. And, in the case of the character we meet, a famous voice. Zach Braff joined Obi-Wan Kenobi episode three to voice Freck, a creature inspired by the star-nosed mole.
Who Is Zach Braff’s Star Wars Character, Freck?
To escape the Empire, Obi-Wan and Leia make their way to the coordinates Haja gave them in “Part II” of Obi-Wan Kenobi. After waiting mere seconds, Obi-Wan gives up hope and Leia hitches them a ride. Freck is driving by and offers them transport to the nearby port. But it turns out he’s happily working alongside the Empire and turns them over to stormtroopers at a nearby checkpoint.
James Earl Jones’s voice wasn’t the only one surprising fans in this episode. Zach Braff cameos as Freck, doing his best Seth Rogen impression. The actor shared photos, though there’s no sign of his character’s interesting facial appendages.
The story calls for a traitorous mole. Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s creators skipped the metaphor and made Zach Braff’s character very mole-like. The long front teeth and claws for digging are especially characteristic. Once lush farmland, the Empire’s mining operations have since devastated Mapuzo’s ecosystem. Perhaps Freck is better suited for mining and that’s why he welcomes the Empire. And while the moving appendages on his face may seem alien, there are animals here on Earth with similar features.
How The Star-Nosed Mole Inspired Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s Freck
Star-nosed moles are common along the east coast of the U.S. But people rarely see them since they live deep underground. Because they live in the dark, they have tiny eyes and poor vision. Star Wars‘ Freck seems to have better vision than his real-life counterparts, good enough to drive a transport at least.
Star-nosed moles have 22 appendages on their face. Each has thousands of sensory organs and nerve endings. Despite being around their noses, it’s not for smelling. The appendages touch, helping the moles feel their way through their environment.
The star-nosed mole has two stars really, side by side above its mouth. Whereas Freck’s appendages are centered one around his nose and another on his chin. Whether his appendages are for touch is unknown. He’d have to be very close to something in order to use them.
There’s a lot more fun facts about star-nosed moles, including that they hold the Guinness World Record for fastest-eating mammal. The video below from National Geographic WILD shows them in their natural habitat.
Hopefully, we’ll get some behind-the-scenes tidbits about Freck in an upcoming featurette. It would be interesting to see concept art and how the character’s look developed from Star-nosed mole to Empire mole.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.