Movie fans might not know who Brian Herring is by name, but they’ve likely seen many of his work on-screen in films like the recent Star Wars sequel trilogy.
A puppeteer and voice actor, Herring has been in major Hollywood productions off and on for nearly 25 years. However, seeing this lack of perceived respect for Herring, Star Wars fans on Reddit decided to give him a little bit of love.
Who is Brian Herring?
Despite being in the middle of the credits after all the notable names in work, puppeteers are the unsung heroes in Hollywood. People like Herring, who silently help shape childhoods and adulthoods with his work as a puppeteer.
He started his career working behind the scenes at the same place where many puppeteers get their big move – Jim Henson studios. There, he played minor characters in Muppet Treasure Island for his first Hollywood work.
From there, he became a go-to puppeteer and voice actor in projects ranging from the hit horror sequel 28 Weeks Later to several kids programs. In 2012, he played Voldemort in the theatrical opening ceremony for the London Olympics.
When Star Wars came back, however, Herring got his most prominent roles. His most famous role was as BB-8, the wildly popular droid from all three movies. He’s since gone on to play other characters, however, such as Hirang Birren in Solo.
Herring’s career is filled with many notable roles, and fans began to take notice.
Appreciating the art
Whether someone was a die-hard fan of the Star Wars sequels or not, they can appreciate the love and care put into the production. This was a common theme in the Reddit thread that kicked off this discussion.
There, fans shared stories of meeting Herring while also reaping praise onto him. After many criticized the sequels for their overuse of CG, fans like u/KingRhoamOfHyrule loved the new movies’ puppets.
“Puppeteers have absolutely made Star Wars feel alive since the OT (especially ROTJ) I’m glad they decided to go with partial practical affects. I will always prefer CG for other franchises but with Star Wars it’s different.”
Fellow Redditor u/timmytimmytomtom1 shared a story that Herring told him at a comic book convention in 2017.
“Saw him at ECCC 3 years ago. He said a teacher once told him his obsession with Star Wars would never get him places.”
There’s an evident appreciation for the work that people like Herring do. This hard work, according to Herring, is what makes his job work it.
Herring on the art of puppeteering
Herring spoke with StarWars.com about his work on the new films. While some might think that puppeteering a character like BB-8 is merely moving his hands or using a remote control, just as much work goes into that performance as any humans on the screen. He discussed this aspect of his work in great detail.
“With BB-8, you can do a lot there and then physically, without having to make any sounds,” Herring told StarWars.com. “I do the sounds on set for him, so Daisy [Ridley] or John or Kelly [Marie Tran], when they’re interacting with BB-8, they’ll be doing lines and I’ll be going [makes a droid beeping and warbling noise] so that they have something to act against.”
A combination of traditional acting, voice acting, and effects work, Herring has worked for decades to hone his craft. While he might not ever become the household name that someone like Andy Serkis is for his work in a similar niche, Herring’s resume is speaking for itself.
As much love that’s given to the Star Wars movies for the most prominent names, it’s threads like this that show how important everyone’s work is to make those dreams reality.
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