Behind the Mask Artists

Joe Johnston

Age: 74
Born: May 13, 1950
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VFX Art Director and Designer of Boba Fett


Credited as art director of visual effects on The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Johnston designed Boba Fett. Since then, Johnston has become a major motion picture director.


"Father" of Boba Fett

According to his online venture, Joe Johnston Sketchbook, here's a quote on how he describes his role with Boba Fett:

"Johnston is Boba Fett's original conceptual designer. He has also been referred to as the 'Father' of Boba Fett. Joe designed the colors and helmet for Boba. John Mollo had designed the original suit as the super trooper army of millions, but the production couldn't afford it for 'Empire Strikes Back.' Therefore, Joe made Boba a singular character with the paint job he did on him, including the damaged suit and helmet."

Super Troopers

"I designed the final version of Boba Fett. Ralph and I both worked together on preliminary designs, and we traded ideas back and forth. Originally, Boba Fett was part of a force we called Super Troopers, and they were these really high-tech fighting units, and they all looked alike. That eventually evolved into a single bounty hunter. I painted Boba's outfit and tried to make it look like it was made of different pieces of armor. It was a symmetrical design, but I painted it in such a way that it looked like he had scavenged parts and had done some personalizing of his costume; he had little trophies hanging from his belt, and he had little braids of hair, almost like a collection of scalps."
-- Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays (p. 184-185, 1997)

Venom Vine

"All of the details of Fett’s costume were invented by Johnston – the wheat insignia on his chest, the braid of hair (later said to be Wookiee hair), the skull. 'I made all that stuff up,' Johnston said. 'Because I figured, let's make him mysterious. Let's not use anything we’ve seen before. And I had names for all that stuff. Most of them I’ve forgotten. But that wheat thing is called the Venom Vine. And on one of his shoulder pads he's got, it's like a skull of some creature. That's all just out of nowhere.' After George told him to 'make him look cool,' he was hands off. (Johnston thinks that he was either in the UK or busy working on the screenplay for 'The Empire Strikes Back.')" – The Wrap interview (2021)

Favorite Spaceships

When asked about his favorite spaceships, one answer of several was as follows: "I like Slave I. This was primarily Nilo's design. Again, it was like nothing else that we had seen in the films and it was somehow very fitting for Boba Fett to be flying this thing. So different, it looked like he found it somewhere, patched it up, and made it his own." Joe Johnston

40,000 and Jetpack Bounce

"Boba Fett started as an Imperial 'super trooper' before becoming the iconic bounty hunter. 'The original idea behind Boba Fett was that he was going to be an army of super troopers,' Johnston recalled. 'There was going to be 40,000 of these guys.' (From a certain point of view, there eventually would be 40,000 of him in the form of clone troopers.)"

"There’s a reason Boba Fett doesn't run. And it's not because he’s too cool to do more than saunter. 'The rocket was a pain in the ass, you know,' Johnston revealed. 'When you tried to run with it, it would bounce up and down.' – interview with Joe Johnston in 2020

Last updated: December 22, 2022
Article ID: 102