Meet Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s great new ‘Star Wars’ droid L3-37

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An exclusive making-of video for “Solo: A Star Wars Story” offers new footage, glimpses of alien creatures and droids, and peeks at colorful costumes.
LUCASFILMPlayed via performance-capture by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, L3-37 is a droid very much into equal rights in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”(Photo: JONATHAN OLLEY)Star Wars droids have run the gamut from pompous and snarky to excitable and kind. The newest one, though, is downright rebellious.In Solo: A Star Wars Story (in theaters May 25), L3-37 — a motion-capture performance by British actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge — is partner and co-pilot to Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). And she’s not above giving some mechanical lip.Leaving the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, Lando asks, “Do you need anything from the back?” and L3 quips, “Equal rights.” That improvised line by Waller-Bridge encapsulates her robot’s style: Along the way of helping young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich), L3 tries to talk a droid out of a death match with a fellow machine and has no patience for droid slavery.Review: ‘Solo’ gambles (and wins) by not being just another ‘Star Wars’ movieAlso: New Chewbacca Joonas Suotamo talks dealing with heavy sweating in his suit“She has a social conscience, which is really great to play,” says Waller-Bridge, 32. “There’s a fire in her belly and something she cares about.”Compared to Star Wars droids like C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8, L3’s “just that much more sentient and she knows her mind and is very outspoken,” director Ron Howard says.L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge, left) is partner and co-pilot to Lando (Donald Glover) in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” (Photo: LUCASFILM)The timing of “droid rights” being espoused in the galaxy far, far away during the Time’s Up era is not lost on Waller-Bridge.“That’s what’s so genius about (Star Wars) films. They speak about and create situations that are so relevant and so poignant today,” she says. “In this safe fictitious world, you can take from it what you want: It can be wonderful entertainment but at the same time there’s always a really important message to fight for your causes.”Related: The cat and mouse finally meet in BBC’s assassin drama ‘Killing Eve’More: ‘Star Wars Resistance’ takes over the animated skies this fall on Disney ChannelWhile other actors playing droids were “sweltering” in their costumes, “I was really lucky that I didn’t have a helmet that covered my whole head,” says Waller-Bridge, who wore a green performance-capture suit with heavy robot arms and legs. “L3’s joints and her legs and arms are in a different place than mine are, so there’s a strange galumphing rhythm to it that came out naturally.”AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideShe recalls asking if she should hit the gym or do any training after having her first walk-around in the suit. “I was like, ‘Do you want me to get strong so I can walk better?’ and they were like, ‘No, no. Whatever this weird thing is that you’re doing is good.’ ”That physicality informed Waller-Bridge’s performance. “The vision for her from the beginning was that she was more flexible, and she had created herself to be able to cross her legs and slouch in a chair and have a shrug about her,” she says.Phoebe Waller-Bridge (left) poses with co-star Emilia Clarke and director Ron Howard at the world premiere of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” (Photo: CHARLEY GALLAY/GETTY IMAGES FOR DISNEY)But working opposite Glover helped, too, and harnessing the “mutual energy” between Lando and L3. “His voice is very velvety and his movements are very cool and smooth, and I just wanted there to be naturally something a bit more rough around the edges and gruff about her to show their differences,” says Waller-Bridge, creator of Amazon’s Fleabag (in which she also stars) and BBC America’s Killing Eve.CLOSE
Young Han Solo meets his future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian.
USA TODAYThe London native would do motion-capture again “in a flash” and “felt liberated having my face covered by green cloth,” she says. “We’re just so self-conscious. However much we try not to be, on some level, especially as a woman and an actress, you have so much pressure when it comes your hair and the bags under your eyes and your skin.“It was just so freeing not to have to worry about that. I was more fearless. So I think I’m going to take that green feeling to my next role.”AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2IjvVdO

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