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The Last Jedi's Supreme Leader Snoke & elite Praetorian Guard emerge

When Kylo Ren's not throwing one of his "darkside tantrums," the easily-triggered son of both the late Han Solo and General Leia Organa can be found at the side of one of the Star Wars Universe's gnarliest denizens, Snoke (Andy Serkis). The elderly, Voldemort-looking icon was, without a doubt, one of the more mysterious characters to be introduced in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Now, with STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI just around the corner, EW is reporting that fans will finally get to see the sinister Snoke in all of his flesh-bound glory (as opposed to a hulking hologram) for the upcoming sequel.

Protecting Snoke in THE LAST JEDI will be the Praetorian Guard, a variation on the crimson-cloaked Imperial guards who marched alongside the Emperor in RETURN OF THE JEDI. 

Here's a look at the Praetorian Guard looking quite battle-ready and willing to die by random laser gun fire for their beloved leader:

When sitting down for an interview with Entertainment Weekly, writer-director Rian Johnson said, "The Emperor’s guards were very formal, and you always got the sense that they could fight, but they didn’t. They looked like they were more ceremonial, and you never really saw them in action. The Praetorians, my brief to [costume designer] Michael Kaplan was that those guys have to be more like samurai. They have to be built to move, and you have to believe that they could step forward and engage if they have to. They have to seem dangerous. They’re his personal guards," Johnson says. “They stick with [Snoke]. So they’re essentially bodyguards.”

If the name Praetorian Guard sounds familiar, that's because it was inspired by our own true-life history and the elite special guard who were sworn to protect the emperors of ancient Rome at all costs. "If we can get kids’ ears to perk up in history class a little bit when they hear that, that’d be a cool thing,” said Johnson. In addition to the Praetorian Guard, fans can also expect to see the scarred visage of Kylo Ren's rain cloud-laden mug up close in the new sequel.

In talking about Snoke, Johnson admits to knowing that there are plenty of fan theories surrounding the malevolent villain. As a way of assuring that Star Wars fans who are sticklers for the details (which is just about every damned one of them), Johnson was quoted as saying, “Similar to Rey’s parentage, Snoke is here to serve a function in the story. And a story is not a Wikipedia page,” Rian says. “For example, in the original trilogy, we didn’t know anything about the Emperor except what Luke knew about him, that he’s the evil guy behind Vader. Then in the prequels, you knew everything about Palpatine because his rise to power was the story.” Johnson also went on to say that "we'll learn as much about Snoke as we need to."

While that might sound as if Johnson is playing coy, he did happen to mention that, "We will see more of him, and Andy Serkis will get to do much more in this film than he did in the last one,” Johnson says. “And that guy is just a force of nature.” When asked about the nature of Andy's performance as Snoke, and whether or not we can expect to see the character portrayed as a mo-cap creation or puppet-like meanace, Johnson replied by saying, “No, it’s entirely a mo-cap performance,” Johnson responded. “[Creature designer] Neal Scanlan built a maquette that we had on set for lighting reference and to give the actors a sense of what it was going to feel like. And then we scanned that and [Industrial Light & Magic] used that in their renderings, but Snoke will be an entirely CG creation.”

In closing out his talk about Andy and his performance as Snoke, Johnson shared with EW that he'll “be sitting at the monitor just with my eyes as big as dinner plates,” Johnson said. “It’s one of those performances where after every line, I’d look over at whoever’s standing next to me with an expression on my face like, ‘Oh, my God, we just got that.” Having met Serkis on the set of WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, I can tell you first-hand that I have no doubt that he will deliver a top-tier performance as Snoke. The man is a master of his craft, and the STAR WARS universe is lucky to have him.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI will force its way into theaters on December 15th.

Extra Tidbit: Like Daisy Ridley's Rey, I would also follow Andy Serkis into the sun. No questions asked, just heat and trust.

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