The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy leaves behind a ton of unanswered questions. How exactly did Palpatine return after his apparent demise in Return of the Jedi? How did Maz Kanata recover Luke’s lightsaber after losing it in his duel with Darth Vader on Bespin? And what the heck was Finn going to tell Rey as they searched for Ochi on Pasaana?
As many questions as there are related to the Sequels, few are as pervasive as those surrounding the shadowy ruler of the First Order, Supreme Leader Snoke. A puppet figure created by Palpatine to manipulate Ben Solo into joining the First Order, numerous questions and fan theories abound about Snoke. Fortunately, as with many things related to Star Wars films, these questions have been answered in somewhat greater detail in the Extended Universe of Star Wars lore.
From trivia tidbits to fundamental background information, here are some of the most interesting facts about Supreme Leader Snoke.
He Is Not Technically a Clone
A common misconception surrounding Supreme Leader Snoke is that he is a clone. While it’s true that he was personally created by Palpatine, technically, he is not a clone. Instead, he was genetically reproduced as a “strand-cast.” Whereas clones are constructed in a lab, strand-casts are individuals created through the Force. As they are beings generated through the Force, strand-casts are given a stronger connection to the Force itself upon their creation, hence Snoke’s powerful Force abilities in the Sequel Trilogy.
He Was Created To Lure Ben Solo to The Dark Side
After the apparent death of Palpatine on the second Death Star, the Dark Lord of the Sith returned to the galaxy, albeit in a physically weakened state. As he regained his strength, Palpatine created Snoke to act as his proxy to avoid arousing suspicions. The overarching mission he assigned to Snoke involved luring Ben Solo to the Dark Side, swaying him away from his parents and uncle, and completing his training as a Dark Side acolyte.
He Was Made To Serve as The Figurehead of The First Order
In addition to serving as Ben Solo’s mentor and de facto master, Palpatine also used Snoke as the key to the Empire’s transition into the First Order. Recognizing that he was still too weak to physically preside over this new order and wanting to operate in secrecy until he was strong enough to return, Palpatine used Snoke to create a new regime out of Imperial loyalists. In particular, Snoke was responsible for recruiting and training a new generation of stormtroopers, organizing the First Order into the full-fledged force it was at the start of The Force Awakens.
He Didn’t Know He Was a Puppet of Palpatine’s
While most artificially generated figures in Star Wars (like the Clones) know they are genetic recreations, Snoke does not know that he is a strand-cast created by Palpatine to do his bidding. Instead, he is motivated by his designs for power, utterly ignorant of his status as a puppet ruler created and installed in power by Palpatine. Unlike other Sith acolytes like Ventress or General Grievous, he was unaware that he was secretly allied with Palpatine, likely believing the Sith Lord was dead by the time of the Sequels.
He’s Been Recreated Multiple Times
As you can briefly glimpse at the start of Rise of Skywalker, Palpatine keeps several duplicates of Snoke on hand in case an unforeseen accident happens to befall the supreme leader. Although these duplicates might be failed copies of Snoke left to rot and decompose, it can be assumed that Snoke has been recreated multiple times throughout the events of the Sequel Trilogy, with some hints thrown into E.U. canon alluding to the fact that his initial lifetime spanned the Galactic Civil War. It remains to be confirmed whether Snoke was really alive during this time period or whether Palpatine planted the idea into his head for Snoke to believe he was a living, breathing person acting of his own free will and volition.
He Is Not a Sith Lord
Despite having an obviously powerful connection to the Dark Side, it’s crucial to note that Snoke was not a Sith Lord – hence the lack of “Darth” in front of his name. Instead, he harbored a deep fascination and interest in the mythology of Sith legend, naturally gravitating towards it, reminiscing about the tales of Sith Lords from the past while not-so-secretly aspiring to be one.
He Was Very Interested in Sith Lore
As mentioned above, though he isn’t technically a Sith Lord, Snoke was nevertheless profoundly interested in the history of the Sith. This is why Snoke chose Ben Solo as his protege, having been awed by young Solo’s familial connection to Darth Vader. Believing Ben would succeed as the next prodigy of the Dark Side where Anakin Skywalker failed, Snoke hoped that, by training Ben, he would witness the second coming of Darth Vader in Kylo Ren.
His Ring Is Related to a Certain Sith Lord
Relating to his avid fascination with the Dark Side of the Force, Snoke traveled the galaxy for years, collecting various artifacts associated with Sith legend. Evidence of this can be found most clearly in the distinct black ring Snoke wears on his ring. The material this ring is made out of is actually obsidian collected from the ruins of Darth Vader’s castle on Mustafar, supporting how highly Vader ranked in Snoke’s mindset.
Kylo Ren Was Not His First Disciple
Kylo Ren might be Snoke’s most prominent disciple by the time of the Sequels, but it’s been confirmed that Kylo wasn’t the first student to train under the Supreme Leader. According to The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary, it’s said that Snoke had at least one other pupil before Kylo came along. Who this student is and what happened to them has yet to be revealed. It’s also been confirmed in the Age of Resistance comic book series that, had Snoke lived, he planned to train additional acolytes to follow in Kylo Ren’s footsteps.
His Hologram Greatly Exaggerates His Height
When he debuts in The Force Awakens, Snoke is only seen in holographic form, conversing with Kylo and General Hux on Starkiller Base. In these initial appearances, Snoke appears upwards of 25 feet tall, towering over his subordinates in the First Order. When he’s shown in The Last Jedi, his physical appearance is revealed actually to be around 7’ 2’’. This transformation could be construed as a subtle reveal that Snoke isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. At the same time, he is initially portrayed as the overbearing, larger-than-life figurehead of the First Order. He’s actually a mere puppet whose strings are being manipulated by Palpatine.
He Is Played by Andy Serkis
While aspects of Snoke’s character are certainly flawed, his movie portrayal is nothing short of excellent. Then again, could you expect anything different from Snoke’s actor, Andy Serkis, the immensely talented performer behind such motion-capture characters as King Kong and The Lord of the Rings’ Gollum. Following his motion-capture portrayal of Snoke in the Sequels, Serkis appeared in the Disney+ series Andor as Imperial prisoner Kino Loy, this time appearing as his physical self.
Serkis Used Some Surprising Influences in His Portrayal of Snoke
As with Emperor Palpatine, the filmmakers and Andy Serkis looked to a wide array of influences when coming up with the physical appearance, mannerisms, and clothing choices for Supreme Leader Snoke. Along with inspiration taken from numerous historical dictators, Serkis found an unlikely inspiration for Snoke in the form of eccentric millionaire Hugh Hefner. In particular, Serkis was impressed by Hefner’s impeccable fashion sense, adopting Hefner’s trademark robes as the primary clothing choice for Snoke in The Last Jedi.
His Physical Appearance Reflects Classic Horror Villains
When it came time to design Snoke’s physical appearance, The Force Awakens’ art department wanted to channel a deeper connection to classical horror villains, specifically looking at the ‘50s films of Hammer Horror (such as those that starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee). In particular, the film’s creators settled on the heavily scarred look of Frankenstein as a chief source of inspiration. This would allow the audience to differentiate better Snoke’s physically injured appearance from Palpatine’s older, wizened state. As senior sculptor, Ivan Manzella said in the book The Art of The Force Awakens, “J.J. [Abrams] and [creature effects supervisor] Neal [Scanlan] didn’t want him to be old and decrepit, like the Emperor.”
Rian Johnson Felt The Character Was a Distraction
One of the most shocking moments in The Last Jedi comes when Kylo Ren betrays Snoke, killing his former master before he can kill Rey. The scene gave the movie one of its most unexpected plot twists, but Rian Johnson virtually planned Snoke’s premature death from the get-go. As Johnson saw it, Snoke was more of a distraction impeding the development of Kylo and Rey’s story. By removing Snoke from the equation, Johnson hoped to better focus on Kylo and Rey’s individual stories and their complex relationship.
His Flagship Was Extraordinarily Rare
Unlike the Imperial capital of Coruscant, the First Order lacked a definitive base of power out of which they conducted their operations. Instead, they relied on a constantly moving stronghold as their primary base, constructing one out of the First Order flagship, the Supremacy. A rare Mega-class Star Destroyer, the Supremacy was the first and last of its kind, serving as the personal vessel of Snoke and the main base for the First Order. Once it was destroyed, it dealt a crippling blow to the strategic might of the First Order.