The Ninjabot

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Character Names Explained

Posted on August 12, 2015 at 2:37 pm by David "Snackbar" Edmundson

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Star Wars is filled with delightful character names, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens is no different. It seems like only yesterday we were getting trading cards announcing that Oscar Isaac was playing “Poe Dameron” and that there was a character named “Kylo Ren” (Adam Driver). Now we have more even more character names, and director/co-writer J.J. Abrams is here to explain them in the latest issue of EW. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Finn and Rey

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Abrams says there’s a reason that, unlike everyone else in the cast, we don’t know the last names for Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley). “I will only say about that that it is completely intentional that their last names aren’t public record,” he comments. So that means that these two characters from established families, correct? Abrams won’t say, but I assume that when their origins are finally revealed, it will be a big deal, or at least I hope so. With Abrams, you never know if he’s just being secretive for secrecy’s sake.

Poe Dameron

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“Dameron” is actually the surname of Abrams’ assistant, Morgan Dameron, although Abrams says he went with the name because not only did he know it, “it just musically felt right.” When it came to “Poe”, Abrams says “We went through a bunch of different names, and Poe ultimately felt like the right name.” He added, “Someone reminded me recently that my daughter had had a polar bear named Poe [or Po’ — short for “polar”], and that might’ve been why it felt right. There was a kind of sweetness to, and a charm to that name.”

BB-8

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The characters’ bouncy look eventually led to his name by virtue of the curvy letters and peppy sound. “I named him BB-8 because it was almost onomatopoeia,” the director says. “It was sort of how he looked to me, with the 8, obviously, and then the 2 B’s.” Abrams also says that while many of the character names changed and second-guessed, BB-8 always stuck. Also, the “BB” is not a reference to Abrams’ producing partner, Bryan Burk. Don’t let anyone tell you different because that definitely sounds like some piece of fan lore that will crop up in decades to come.

General Hux

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The leader of The First Order (played by Domhnall Gleeson) is young and ambitious, but Abrams has trouble remembering the origin of his name. He thinks it might have come up during the long storytelling conversations he had with co-writer Lawrence Kasdan.

“We were walking through a cemetery that’s near the Bad Robot offices,” says Abrams. and we would often, as we were talking about characters, sort of just be glancing at names to see if any of them stuck. I don’t believe that Hux came from there, but it may have.”

EW did a search for tombstones in the vicinity of the Santa Monica offices, but maybe they saw a similar name and that eventually was teased out to “Hux”. They can’t all have rich and substantial backstories, I suppose.

Captain Phasma

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What does the 1979 cult horror film Phantasm have in common with The Forcer Awakens? Gwendoline Christie’s Chrome Trooper baddie, Captain Phasma. “Phasma I named because of the amazing chrome design that came from Michael Kaplan’s wardrobe team,” says Abrams. It reminded me of the ball in Phantasm, and I just thought, Phasma sounds really cool.”

Kylo Ren [Minor Spoilers]

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“Ren”, like “Darth”, is an honorific. Kylo Ren comes from the “Knights of Ren”. So what was his original name? The character will continue to be shrouded in mystery, and while I can find Abrams’ fetish for secrecy a bit tedious, when it comes to Ren, I hope this is a character that’s teased out over the course of multiple films as opposed to another Darth Maul. At the very least, Abrams says, “He is not your prototypical mustache-twirling bad guy. He is a little bit more complex than that.”

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