Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been met by a mixed bag of viewer reviews, but you've probably already heard enough about that. So let's talk about Porgs.
Introduced on Luke Skywalker's loner planet Ahch-To, Porgs are the new and cute animal of the Star Wars universe. Think Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. And as adorable – or annoying, depending on your cynicism – as they are, their reason for being in the movie is nothing to do with the plot.
When the crew was filming on Skellig Michael, a small island off Ireland, they discovered it was actually overrun with puffins. That's right, Porgs are the Star Wars version of puffins. The film crew and special effects team discovered it would be quicker and cheaper to digitally alter the puffins than remove them.
According to the Star Wars official website, designer Jake Lunt Davies said they worked to incorporate the puffins. "From what I gathered, Rian [director Rian Johnson], in a positive spin on this, was looking at how can he work with this," Davies said.
"You can't remove them. You physically can't get rid of them. And digitally removing them is an issue and a lot of work, so let's just roll with it, play with it. And so i think he thought, "Well, that's great, let's have our own indigenous species"."
Davies said the design of the Porgs was a mix of the puffin, beavers, seals and pug dogs. "The big eyes of a seal or the big eyes of a pug dog and the sort of funny, ugly face. I mean, pug dogs aren't by their nature, obviously cute. There's something incredibly appealing about it [a pug]. Maybe it's the big eyes. But like a pug, porgs have this very sort of sad, neutral face."
Ten designs were presented to Johnson to pick one for the film. "I was surprised when, suddenly, the internet goes crazy for it and it turned into a meme fast," Davies said.