Hey Hey! The Rise of Skywalker has been out for almost four months and has polarized the Star Wars fanbase. One aspect of the film that has the fans united, however, is the tiny droidsmith Babu Frik. The tiny, barely lingual creature wiped C-3PO's memory when the heroes travelled to Kijimi to get a translation of the inscription on Ochi of Bestoon's knife. The character brought consistent laughs to audiences through both his actions and references, and was once thought dead when Kijimi was destroyed until triumphantly appearing with Zorii Bliss at the Battle of Exegol. A recent interview with creators who brought Babu to life now indicates that the droidsmith was a goner... until someone of certain fame may have saved him.
In an interview with Empire Magazine, special effects supervisor Neal Scanlan, concept artist Ivan Manzella, and actress Shirley Henderson revealed that Babu Frik was originally set to meet his demise during Kijimi's destruction - until Scanlan shared that the droidsmith's newest fan, Steven Spielberg, wondered where he went.
It could be a rumour, but I believe J.J. screened the movie for Steven Spielberg, and at the end Spielberg said, ‘What happened to Babu?’
Everybody thought, ‘Oh God, what did happen to Babu?’
According to Manzella, Frik was going to die when the Final Order Star Destroyer blew up Kijimi:
I think he was going to die originally – I think the AD shot that. When the planet [Kijimi] was blown up, he was on it.
Perhaps thanks to Spielberg's inquiry, Babu returned on Exegol in Zorii's Y-Wing, something that shocked even Henderson as Scanlan explained how Frik was included in the final battle:
We shot several other sequences. The ILM guys found one, lifted out Babu and put him into Zorii’s ship at the end.
WHAT THIS MEANS
To put it bluntly, this means that Babu Frik was going to die. The instant sensation was apparently set to meet his end but, maybe thanks to Spielberg, was able to return to wreak havoc on the final order from the cockpit of Zorii's Y-Wing.
Steven Spielberg has been tied to Star Wars since some of the earliest screenings of the original film, being a good friend of George Lucas. He was asked to direct Return of the Jedi, but was unable to do so as he was a member of the Director's Guild, which Lucas had quit following hefty fines for including the credits at the end of his films. Nevertheless, Spielberg has remained a light collaborator on the franchise, seen in the Episode I documentary checking out sets and battle droid props, and is said to have directed a portion of Anakin and Obi-Wan's lightsaber duel in Revenge of the Sith.
Spielberg is a friend and mentor of J.J. Abrams, and suggested that trees should be cut down during Rey and Kylo Ren's duel in the forest in The Force Awakens during a sreening. All of this makes it no surprise that he made yet another fun contribution to the Star Wars saga, albeit unknowingly, as he saved an icon in The Rise of Skywalker.