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In an in depth interview with Vanity Fair magazine, author of the definitive Ralph McQuarrie tome, David Mandel explores the influences from Ralph McQuarrie’s work on the original Star Wars trilogy had on The Rise Of Skywalker.

Few people have shaped Star Wars as profoundly as Ralph McQuarrie—and he’s still making an impact on the galaxy far, far away seven years after his death.

Unused concept art created by the late artist not only inspired the style of The Rise of Skywalker, but in some cases director J.J. Abrams brought to life specific archival images.

Fans are waiting to see how Emperor Palpatine may return, but the benevolent spirit of McQuarrie is also omnipresent in the December 20 film.

“It would be hard to deny that, though I could try to. But I would fail,” Abrams told Vanity Fair. “McQuarrie, obviously, is as much the visual architect of Star Wars as anyone. And some of his work still hadn’t been fully realized. Some of his sketches hadn’t been built, some of the sets hadn’t been made. So it was fun to get to take some of that inspiration, and run with it.”

Vanity Fair: Did you spot these references right away when you watched the trailers?

David Mandel:
One of my favorite things about all the sequels since The Force Awakens is how much they have kept alive the design language that Ralph helped create all those years ago. You see Ralph everywhere in the sequels, but yes, when I saw that “spider throne” and the Y-wing shot I was blown away.

The “spider throne” appears to belong to Emperor Palpatine—whatever form he takes in the new movie. What insight can you share about Ralph’s original illustration. What was the history of that image?

The sketch came from Ralph’s work on Return of the Jedi. Like they did on The Empire Strikes Back, Ralph along with Joe Johnston and Nilo Rodis-Jamero started working on ideas with George way before there was an actual script. As the script developed, a lot of those early ideas went away. But Ralph designed both a throne room for the Emperor on a lava planet, which made it into Revenge of the Sith, and this “creepier” spider-like, tentacles throne design which was his Death Star throne room. These sketches never really went past the thumbnail stage, but when you see the drawings they really jump out at you.

For the full insightful interview, take the link to Vanity Fair.

Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie
  • Star Wars Art Ralph McQuarrie
  • McQuarrie, Ralph (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 800 Pages - 09/27/2016 (Publication Date) - Abrams (Publisher)