One of the most recognizable Star Wars characters to ever hit the big screen, Jabba The Hutt is an icon in the Star Wars universe, and even the least interested of fans recognize him. Though he doesn’t appear in all films, and his role in the franchise is actually quite miniscule, he’s a beloved character that fans love to hate.
Still, while Jabba is a popular character in Star Wars culture, there’s still quite a bit of information about him that not all fans are familiar with. Just as with any Star Wars character, Jabba The Hutt was realized through much forethought and creative discussion and it actually took a lot of work to complete the finished product we see on-screen today.
So to give the character his due, here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jabba The Hutt.
1. Jabba’s Original Look
Originally, Jabba The Hutt was meant to be fuzzy creature, a concept that very much differs from the eventual, slug-like character he ultimately became. Also, to help develop the concept of Jabba, creators partly modeled the creature after actor Sydney Greenstreet, an actor best known for films such as Casablanca (1942) and The Maltese Falcon (1941).
As far as gender was concerned, Jabba had no clearly defined sex during the early concepts. However, with the new canon of Star Wars characters resulting from The Force Awakens (2015), all Hutts have been assigned genders, and the character is very clearly defined as male.
2. Wardrobe Malfunctions
During the scenes involving Jabba The Hutt in Return of the Jedi (1983), there were plenty of wardrobe malfunctions to go around. For starters, Oola, the green slave girl seen dancing around Jabba in the film, has an unfortunate (and revealing) costume malfunction when he is pulling on her chain as she dances for him. This malfunction has gone on to become one of the most talked about in the Star Wars universe.
Carrie Fisher also experienced a wardrobe malfunction during the iconic, bikini scene at Jabba’s palace. Fisher ended up accidently stabbing the Jabba puppet with one of her heels. The heel punctured the character’s tail and consequently stabbed the puppeteer, Mike Edmonds, operating it.
2. Star Wars: The Horror Film
When filming the sail barge scene in Return of the Jedi, the producers of the film found it difficult to ensure secrecy, especially as the location in Yuma, Arizona (The Imperial Dunes) drew the attention of many tourists and local enthusiasts. There were reportedly about 35,000 dune buggy enthusiasts in the area.
So to avoid these enthusiasts, and ensure secrecy, producers claimed to be making a horror film. They called the film “Blue Harvest,” made hats and t-shirts for the crew to wear and went so far as to come up with a tagline: “Horror beyond imagination.” Still, for the few die-hard fans that knew the truth, there was a chain-link fence put up as well as a 24-hour security service utilized to keep fans out.
4. Jabba’s Language
Jabba The Hutt, like all Hutt characters in the Star Wars franchise, speaks Huttese. Huttese is a fictional language inspired by the sounds of the Incan language, Quechua. However, the puppeteers working inside the character would actually speak the character’s dialogue in English while they were controlling the puppet.
For this reason, everything that Jabba The Hutt says in Huttese actually has the same amount of syllables as its English translation – this way, the puppeteers wouldn’t have to memorize the intricacies of the Huttese language to work the puppet. Rather, the puppeteers could perform the English dialogue and there would be no complications when the Huttese language was interposed on top of it later.
5. The Intricacies of the Puppet
Jabba The Hutt was a puppet in the fourth, fifth and sixth films (though he would later become CGI in the franchise’s first trilogy). Still, the amount of work it took to create the giant puppet is actually quite mind-blowing. For starters, the puppet took Stuart Freeborn’s team (the makeup artists responsible for designing Yoda) a total of three months to build.
6. The Difficulties of the Jabba’s Palace Sequence
The iconic sequence that takes place in Return of the Jedi was no picnic to shoot, and actually took a little less than a month to see to completion. In total, the work required nine mime artists, forty-two extras, eighteen principles, a crew of ninety and a grand total of ten puppeteers (though seven of these were working the Jabba puppet).
There were three puppeteers inside (one controlled the right arm and the jaw, one controlled the left hand and the jaw, tongue and head, and the third person was inside the tail. Outside of the puppet, one or two people worked as radio controllers for the eyes while someone else would sit under the stage below the puppet to blow cigar smoke up a tube. Finally, there was one more person outside the puppet that would work the bellows for the lungs.
7. The Many Sounds of Jabba
The large, disgusting creature comes with quite a few sounds to match, and Star Wars producers wanted to get it right. The different sounds used for the creature (aside from the speaking parts) and his home, were both man-made and animal made.
For instance, the noises made by Jabba’s movements, a slithering sound, were actually created by soundman Ben Burtt. He would run his hands through a cheese casserole to get the slimy, slithery sound. As for the growls and other sounds of the Rancor (Jabba’s giant pet), a small, pet dog was used. Specifically, a dachshund.
8. Jabba The Hutt was supposed to appear in A New Hope
Jabba The Hutt has had a few Star Wars appearances, including his small part in The Phantom Menace (1999), but he didn’t first appear until Return of the Jedi. However, he was originally supposed to appear in A New Hope (1977), but the effect required to complete the scene (dropping Jabba in optically on top of stand-in actor, Declan Mulholland, wasn’t acceptable and the scene was eventually cut.
9. Jabba’s Background
Jabba The Hutt, full name Jabba Desilijic Tiure, is a 600-year-old Hutt gangster and crime lord from Tatooine. Jabba quickly became a major player in the world of Tatooine, as he became a big reason for the planet’s wealth due to his control of the trafficking of illegal goods, piracy and slavery.
Jabba also led the Grand Hutt Council during the Clone Wars, and eventually, his loyalty would fall to The Empire, giving him and his fellow Hutts immunity against the Imperial suppression of criminal activity in the Outer Rim. This alliance also results in the gifting of Han Solo from Darth Vader to Jabba in The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
10. Jabba’s Former Fez
Jabba The Hutt was originally going to be a fuzzy creature, as mentioned before, but much of the original concept work for the creature came from the 1942 film, Casablanca. In fact, Jabba’s original design for Return of the Jedi featured the large creature donning a fez (the flat-topped, conical red hat with a black tassel on top typically associated with people from the former Ottoman Empire.
This design was inspired by the character, Signor Ferrari (Sydney Greenstreet) in Casablanca. However, as is now seen in the film, the fez was eventually removed, though creators still utilized Greenstreet’s overall look to inspire that of Jabba.
Have other Jabba trivia? Let us know in the comments!