A host of new characters from Star Wars: The Force Awakens have been revealed by way of their action figures, and fans have now discovered a new alien that appears to be director J.J. Abrams’ heartfelt tribute to the Beastie Boys.
Character names in the Star Wars universe have long run the gamut from impressively unique (think Obi Wan Kenobi or Darth Vader) to frighteningly uninspired. The naming conventions involved in the franchise hit a notorious low point during Attack of the Clones with the appearance of a character who briefly tries to sell death sticks to the aforementioned Obi Wan, who is quite literally named Elan Sleazebaggano (as in, he’s a sleazebag… get it?). With the impending release of The Force Awakens, however, the naming of a new Star Wars alien appears to have been a moving tribute on the part of director J.J. Abrams.
— WCBS-FM (@WCBSFM) October 3, 2015
Earlier in the year, production art from the newest Star Wars film leaked online, showing an alien known at the time as a “bullhead.” As Geek points out, photos of the character in the form of a practical costume on set later appeared, yet little was known about the alien other than that it was a member of the Resistance who would be featured either at a base or in the cockpit of an X-Wing.
— Jim Shearer (@JimShearer) October 2, 2015
On Force Friday, an action figure of the bullhead was released, revealing its name to be Ello Asty. Still, it took several weeks for astute fans to put together the hidden tribute involved with the character. At first, Star Wars fans thought that the name might reference Lost, another J.J. Abrams production (EL Oh Es Tee), but the truth appears to be something far more meaningful.
— FACT (@FACTmag) October 1, 2015
Astute fans finally realized that Ello Asty actually refers to the title of the Beastie Boys album Hello Nasty, with just the first letters removed. If anyone thinks this is a coincidence, the character’s specially designed helmet provides a hint, which reveals that the tribute was almost certainly intentional. As the Verge points out, the helmet worn by Ello Asty as an action figure includes an inscription along the jawline, written in the Star Wars in-universe language of Aurebesh. This text reads “Born to Ill,” an apparent reference to the Beastie Boy’s 1986 debut, License to Ill.
— Yakface.com (@yak_face) September 11, 2015
If there are any holdouts who still wouldn’t believe that Ello Asty is actually meant to be a Beastie Boys tribute, there is one more element that points to that conclusion. Aside from the fact that J.J. Abrams is a notorious Beastie Boys fan who has used their music before (think James Kirk stealing a car in Star Trek to the tune of “Sabotage”), Ello Asty’s species is named an Abednedo in the recently released (and newly canon) Star Wars novels Moving Target and Aftermath. In the Beastie Boys’ song “Shadrach,” the lyrics reference a Judaeo-Christian parable involving Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
The Beastie Boys folded in 2012 following Adam Yauch’s death from cancer. Ello Asty may not have a major role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens when it is released, yet fans of the Beastie Boys will no doubt appreciate Abrams’ hidden tribute to the group, which is now eternally ensconced in Star Wars lore.
[Photo by Junko Kimura / Getty Images]