'Star Wars' FX team used a purring kitten to make Kylo Ren ominous

Star Wars: The box office guide
Star Wars: The box office guide

In one of most ominous scenes in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," villain Kylo Ren had an assist from a purring kitten named Pork Chop.

Visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett and sound editor Matthew Wood revealed some of the film's secrets to CNNMoney at the South by Southwest conference this week.

Wood explained that during the interrogation scene between heroine Rey and Kylo Ren there is a loud and disorienting hum when Kylo attempts to use The Force to steal Rey's thoughts.

"We wanted to have an undercurrent in that scene," Wood said, adding that the sound frequency of Kylo's Force control was actually based on a kitten's purr.

"We used our sound designer, David Acord's kitten, Pork Chop," Wood told CNNMoney. "Pork Chop's purr was Kylo Ren's dark force sound."

star wars kylo ren stormtroopers
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" villain Kylo Ren got an assist from a purring kitten named Pork Chop.

Guyett and Wood, who both were nominated for Oscars for their work in the film, attended a screening at the Texas film festival of "Secrets of the Force Awakens," a behind-the-scenes documentary of the $2 billion Disney hit.

As for Guyett and his visual effects team, making "Force Awakens" unique was about bringing real world locations and sets to the fictional "Star Wars" universe.

"We went to locations, we built whatever we could," Guyett said. "We gave the actors whatever we could to try and make a more sincere performance."

Guyett added this was one of the reasons the film decided to have lovable droid BB-8 as a puppet rather than just a CGI effect.

"The way BB-8 was puppeteered affected the delivery of the lines for the actors who interacted with the droid," Guyett said.

star wars sxsw
Droid R2-D2 made a surprise appearance at this year's South by Southwest conference.

Related: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' available for digital download on April 1

"Force Awakens" was praised by fans and critics for returning to the franchise's roots of using practical effects like sets and puppets alongside computer generated images.

To capture this, Guyett and Wood also studied the "Star Wars" archives to get the saga's iconography, like the Millennium Falcon, just right.

"We went to the archives and painstakingly looked at the way the effects team on the original films created those models," Guyett said of the Falcon.

This also included an extra focus on the ship's details, such as replacing the Falcon's circular satellite dish with a square one seeing that the original got knocked off at the end of 1983's "Return of the Jedi," according to Guyett.

Related: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' to become third film to cross $2 billion

But for the FX team that put it all together it was a labor of love to awaken "Star Wars" for its new galaxy of fans.

"Ultimately there was a tremendous amount of love and enthusiasm for the whole thing," Guyett said.


CNNMoney Sponsors