Supreme Leader Snoke might’ve been killed by Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but the towering space wizard still has a rich, untold backstory. The actor who plays him certainly knows much more than the rest of us, and he delights in keeping it mostly a mystery. But The Last Jedi novelization has even more details.

In an interview published Tuesday with Entertainment Weekly, renowned mocap actor Andy Serkis, who’s played Snoke since The Force Awakens, confirmed that despite minimal official details, he previously discussed Snoke’s backstory with both The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.

Serkis imagines him as “a couple of hundred years old” with a litany of egregious injuries from “previous battles” that have left him permanently scarred, made worse by “a sort of decay.” Snoke wasn’t always just a menacing leader wielding power from a blood-red throne room. He used to be a fighter — before somebody caved in his skull.

Snoke's throne room is seriously imposing, but he probably wasn't always this grandiose.

“I’ve always approached him as someone who is obviously in a position of supreme power,” Serkis said, “but actually, there is a level of vulnerability about the character.” He may be one of the most powerful Force users we’ve ever seen, but Snoke’s many injuries probably made him physically vulnerable: “The way that his face is caved in, he has those deep scarifications. His skull’s almost been crushed.”

“He is withered and slightly twisted in his spine, so that gave him that lurch,” Serkis added. “Those injuries are things that he has carried for a long time, and it’s almost like a form of arthritis.” This physical vulnerability made Snoke operate from a place of fear, a position he probably knew was risky.

“When you’re operating from a level of fear, you operate dangerously as a leader,” Serkis rationalized. Typical of most villains on the Dark side of the Force, Snoke ruled from a place of fear.

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In The Last Jedi novelization, Snoke recognizes himself as “an unlikely fulcrum” for the First Order’s leader, “just about the furthest thing from what the tattered remnants of Palpatine’s Empire had imagined as a leader.” Snoke’s strength wasn’t just as a Force user; it was also in scheming and killing off his competition and seizing control of the Empire’s remnants for his own purposes.

Snoke actor Andy Serkis in motion capture gear.

“He knows that as a leader you run the risk of people rebelling, you run the risk of people turning against you, the people that are closest to you,” Serkis said, and we all know full well that this is exactly what happened in The Last Jedi. Rey rightfully called Snoke out, saying that he underestimated both her and Ben Solo.

And then Ben Solo cut Snoke in half.

Centuries of battle injuries transformed Snoke into a decrepit, fearful creature. He’s truly half the man he once was, especially after learning the hard way what happens when you operate from a place of fear.

In the several centuries that he was alive, Snoke no doubt saw some incredible things. The Last Jedi novelization reveals that like Palpatine, Snoke had mined the Unknown Regions of the galaxy for knowledge of the Force: “The galaxy’s knowledge of the Force had come from those long-abandoned, half-legendary star systems, and that great truths awaited rediscovery among them.”

Will Rey or Kylo Ren one day discover these great truths? Will we ever learn the full extent of Snoke’s history?

Serkis, like the rest of us, hopes that Snoke’s full backstory might be explored in other Star Wars stories one day, but for the time being, you probably shouldn’t expect Snoke to return in Episode IX.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be released digitally on March 13 with the physical Blu-ray due out March 27.

Now check out this: “Insane ‘Last Jedi’ Theory Connects Snoke And Anakin”

Photos via Lucasfilm (1, 2)

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