If the robotic voice of BB-8, the lovable new droid in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, seems imbued with a spark of humanity, that’s because there’s an actual human voice behind it. And not just any human voice, but the one belonging to Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader. HitFix spotted the actor’s name in the credits at the end of the movie, along with fellow actor Ben Schwartz (best known as Parks and Recreation’s Jean-Ralphio).
Hader and Schwartz were credited as vocal consultants, a nebulous role which Hader explained to HitFix as follows: “JJ [Abrams] f–king around with this sound effects app on his iPad that was attached to a talk box operated by me. It looked ridiculous but it made BB-8’s voice. At first I tried doing a voice, but we all agreed it sounded too human.”
Hader and Schwartz’s contributions to the sound of BB-8 mark a slight departure from the way in which fellow droid R2-D2 got his voice. To create that robot’s whistles and whirs, sound designer Ben Burtt—who’s also responsible for the voices of Chewbacca, Darth Vader, the Imperial Walkers and the light saber—recorded his own voice and combined it with electronic sounds made using using synthesizer.
Behind the scenes as he may be, Hader turns out to be a crucial contributor to Star Wars‘ hottest droid right now.