Soon after the first screenings of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” word began to spread that actors Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz (“Parks and Recreation”) were credited as “voice consultants” for BB-8.
Recently, Schwartz did a Reddit AMA and gave a whole rundown of his experience. It turns out there was even written dialogue for BB-8 before it was turned into beeps, and it took time to nail the droid’s sound.
Here’s what Schwartz said:
I was lucky enough that when JJ Abrams was making the new Star Wars film, he came home on a little break and he said, “Hey I have this new droid called BB-8, and I want him to have personality. You know, everybody loves R2-D2, but I want to put him in situations where he can feel warmth, and he can be funny, and he can do all these things.” Because he had these big scenes with Rey — and I can talk about it all finally — all these big scenes with Daisy Ridley’s character, and John Boyega’s character, and so the process was at the beginning. We wrote real dialogue for him.
So, there’s recordings of me overseeing this. JJ would show me scenes, and I would say real dialogue as BB-8 in response to whatever Rey or people were saying. And then, the goal was to give that to LucasFilms and they would turn them into beeps and boops. So they tried it, and when it came back, I feel like it felt like… you can feel like it was a human being turned into beeps and boops. So then they gave me a synthesiser, and this great sound guy named Robby Stambler — when we were in the room for hours, I would call us “The Beautiful Boys,” because we both looked terrible. Nah, he’s a great guy. But Robby Stambler, amazing sound guy, and we did this thing where I would take this microphone that was hooked into a computer, and I’d literally try to do the beeps and boops.
First, we tried it with words, and it didn’t work. And then I tried to do the beeps and boops. And in the end, we did a bunch and bunch of scenes, and I was very fortunate and got to see the movie beforehand, and all this stuff and really work with it. I don’t know how much of those are in it, but I was told by the editors that all the dialogue that I did for the film was used while they edited. So, if Rey, Daisy Ridley’s character, is having a scene with BB-8, they would edit with my dialogue in there to know when to cut to back and stuff like that. And I was so excited, because I don’t know how much per cent of my actual voice is in there, hopefully there is some, but I know that all the editors were so kind to me in saying that it really helped with the way they edit, and the cadence.
It’d be awesome if Lucasfilm ever released the recordings of the English dialogue Schwartz and Hader used while creating BB-8.
Here’s Schwartz’s full AMA video:
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