In anticipation of the digital HD release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Friday, April 1 via the brand new FandangoNOW VOD platform, we sat down with Force Awakens sound editor Matthew Wood and visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett to discuss some of the cooler things that went on behind the scenes while crafting one of the most successful films ever made.
Like how did they create the freaky sound of Kylo Ren's mask?
One of the trickiest parts of Star Wars: The Force Awakens came with introducing a new villain that's both unlike any villain we've seen in Star Wars, but also one whose very purpose is to finish what his granddad Darth Vader started. Hence, Kylo Ren most definitely rocks a heavy Vader vibe, but almost everything else about the character is different, including the function of his soon-to-be-iconic mask.
"J.J. wanted that mask to convey a certain kind of creepiness," sound editor Matthew Wood tells Fandango. "He used to say, 'Harley Davidsons! Chainsaws! Flamethrowers!'"
Wood added that when it came to the sound of Kylo Ren's mask, Abrams wanted it to have an intimidating feel. Unlike Darth Vader, whom Ren is clearly trying to emulate, his mask isn't keeping him alive -- as Wood says, "it's purely there as intimidation, to make that character have a stronger, imposing presence."
But the mask actually serves dual purposes, because the scarier it is, the greater impact the reveal of the face behind the mask is. "When he takes the mask off, you have this moment of, oh, it's not some horribly disfigured bad guy under there -- it's Adam Driver, who's unique and kind of handsome."
Unlike Darth Vader, who was played by separate men -- one in the costume (David Prowse) and one voicing the character (James Earl Jones) -- Kylo Ren is all Adam Driver. And when it came to harnessing the villain's deep, creepy, robotic voice, Wood reveals they created a special way for Driver to pull it off.
"I actually came up with a process to allow Adam Driver to be very method about it, and hear what his mask was sounding like while he was performing," says Wood. "We'd bring him into the studio, I would put that in his headphones and he could get right up on the microphone and get really creepy about his process and hear it. That was J.J. -- he really wanted people to feel it. He wanted that organic process, and he wanted Kylo Ren's mask to portray that sort of intimidation... and so we gave him that sound."
Stay tuned for more from Woods and visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett in advance of The Force Awakens arriving on Blu-ray April 5 and on Digital HD (including FandangoNOW) on April 1.
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