Decoding Snoke

On the latest episode of “Now this is podcasting”, there was a discussion about the latest interviews about Snoke. Interestingly, there wasn’t complete agreement on how to interpret some things in the interview from Empire last week, in particular the thing about Serkis filming atop a 25 foot podium. While Jeremy Conrad, from thought that it definitely meant a regular sized character sitting atop a real podium. Jason Ward from and Randy Lo Gudice (@cursinguser), however, interpreted it that Snoke might be really large character.

Although this discrepency between the usually agreeing hosts reveals how little we actually know about Snoke, the answer to what this says about Snoke may be right in front of our noses.

This is because Jason further points out that the set piece is called “The Great Hall”, presumably the place where Snoke is staying, like a throne room, where he communicates with Hux (who was recently confirmed by the Empire interview to have scenes with Serkis) and Kylo Ren. In fact, the connection jumps out of one of the few pieces of concept art for TFA that could be of Snoke (above an old concept from Ralph McQuarrie via SWNN):

Concept art from The Force Awakens (top) and older concept of the Emperor’s throne room from Ralph McQuarrie (bottom).

Therefore, we could have a more extreme version of the top concept, with a much higher throne, possibly in a much bigger cavern on the StarKiller base planet. It seems like it has to be on StarKiller base planet, because that’s the only place where he could talk to both Hux and Kylo. Many people thought that this was Luke, but the comparison to an old Emperor concept from RMcQ reveals that this is more likely Snoke.  It is long well known that they are mining old McQuarrie concept art for TFA all over the place, and as fans know, McQuarrie also worked on Battle Star Galactica. There are some early concept work of the Boltar that resembles ideas that could be used with Snoke. The 25 foot podium mentioned by Serkis definitely brings this to mind:

Battle Star Galactica concept art from Ralph McQuarrie (hat tip to SarcoPlank for pointing this out.

Would JJ and Lucasfilm dig up old McQuarrie pieces that are not Star Wars, but BSG? They might if it sparked some ideas that could be incorporated into the other pieces. If they did, then that would explain what’s going on with the podium…except for the fact that in the other interview from Entertainment Weekly, Serkis also says that “He is large. He appears tall.” So which is it? Is he tall, or is he very tall? Meaning is he as tall as the Early Emperor concepts from McQuarrie?

Actually there were revisions in the early concept of the Emperor that may shed some light on what Snoke could look like. The first version looked like this:


which looks a bit decrepit in the face, fitting with other Serkis comments, and it also fits the quote “distinctive, idiosyncratic bone and facial structure” by Serkis (see below). This piece was later revised into something more like the Emperor we know (albeit taller and bluer):


We know the latter image inspired the McDiarmid’s Emperor, but could the earlier version have inspired some of the new concepts for Snoke? In both cases, this concept is very large, and could actually be 25 foot tall, and fits the description.

The Empire article also reiterates some stuff from interview from Entertainment Weekly, in particular the part about Snoke being a damaged, scarred, and disfigured character. We can’t help but make the connection with one of the early rumors of “Uber”, the early code-name for Snoke, where the guys at StarWarsUnderworld state that:

Andy Serkis’ character basically looks like an old man, zombie like, almost risen from the dead.

If we also connect this to some old McQuarrie concept art for the Emperor (found here), the first one that jumps out is this one:


we can see that this old McQ concept looks Zombie-like with skin hanging down off his fingers. Could this be what Serkis means when he says (in the EW article):

“there is a strange vulnerability to him, which belies his true agenda, I suppose.”

In other words, it might be that Snoke is a half-dead, damaged, and disfigured, almost hanging by a thread to life, but at the same time emerging in a very long elaborate plot to take over he entire galaxy. He’s a “long-term schemer”, that’s been around through the much of the previous events in the Star Wars movies, so he could be some sort of undead character that goes back to the prequels.

But what if they combine these two? What if we have a 25 foot tall zombie character, broken and frail because his weakened undead bones can barely support the weight of his 25 foot lumbering body? So either this is the vulnerability that Serkis is talking about, or it is a reason to reject this and accept that Snoke is a regular-sized guy that has a tall throne.

The other key point we have from these new interviews is that Snoke is a new character. This is key because in one fell swoop seems to take down both the Darth Plagueis and the Darth Jar Jar theories.

Is there any other concept art that might be relevant? Maybe one ther piece:


This early concept from Indie Revolver, depicts what appears to be Luke battling a very tall, yellow-lightsaber-wielding bad guy. We know it’s Luke because of the green lightsaber, given that Finn/Rey have Luke/Anakin’s old blue one. At this height could this be our tall Snoke character? This could certainly be an early Kylo Ren concept, but check that height! That character is actually almost twice the size of Luke, if not taller. However, almost everything points to Luke only being present for the very last scene of the movie. Therefore, could this showdown have been moved to Episode VIII?

I talked to @mazlow01 about this, and he is of the opinion that Snoke will be between 8-12 ft tall and be seated on a 10-15 ft tall podium. He doubts we will see him do anything physical in this film except for he will light a lightsaber at least once. Andy Serkis said something about Snoke would carry one and Mazlow01 thinks he will, and will have a look that’s a mix of early concepts of the Emperor and Voldemort.

One thing we can be sure of is, by not telling us about Snoke, and getting us to debate and dig through the details, there are creating incredible anticipation. In a way, it would be in their best interest to not tell us anything about Snoke! I’m glad they left us a few crumbs to chew one.

Follow me on twitter @davestrrr and stay posted to on MWF for updates.







Here’s a summary of these two articles:

Interview from Entertainment Weekly. To paraphrase Serkis, we have the following facts about Snoke:

  • Snoke kept changing, not only through principle photography
  • Snoke is not compulsive, rather he is a long-range schemer with a huge agenda.
  • Supreme Leader Snoke is strangely vulnerable at the same time as being quite powerful
  • He has suffered a lot of damage.
  • He could not be done without CGI
  • He has a distinctive, idiosyncratic bone and facial structure.
  • Snoke is a new character in this universe. It is very much a newly-introduced character,
  • Snoke has been around and is aware of prior events, and is aware of the past to a great degree.
  • Snoke is large and tall, with a facial design that coudn’t be done without CGI

Interview from Empire last week. Again, paraphrasing we get this info:

  • Serkis worked specifically with, presumably filmed scenes with, Domhnall Gleeson and with Adam Driver.
  • Snoke was very high up, alone, but talking to Hux and Kylo Ren.
  • Serkis first day involved sitting on a 25-foot podium doing Lord Snoke, not knowing who the character was.
  • Snoke is severely damaged, scarred, and disfigured.