|Star Wars character|
Nien Nunb in Return of the Jedi
|First appearance||Return of the Jedi (1983)|
|Occupation||Arms dealer, smuggler, pilot |
CEO of Calrissian-Nunb Mines (Legends continuity exclusively)
Nien Nunb is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise. Introduced in the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, he was brought to life both as a puppet and a costumed actor during the film. Nunb was puppeteered by Mike Quinn and was portrayed by Richard Bonehill in wide shots. The character was voiced by Kipsang Rotich, a Kenyan student who spoke in his native Kalenjin, as well as in the Kikuyu. Quinn and Rotich both returned to the role for the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and once again for the 2017 film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The character is expected to return for the upcoming 2019 film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Within the fictional Star Wars universe, Nien Nunb was an arms dealer of the Sullustan species who joined the Alliance to Restore the Republic during the Galactic Civil War. Three decades later, Nunb was a starfighter pilot in the Resistance. He fought in the First Order–Resistance conflict, including the Battle of Starkiller Base.
Creation and portrayal
Nunb's name originated from the fact that he was referred to as "Number Nine" on creature packaging. In an interview, Richard Marquand described Nien Nunb as, "…a Muppet, a guy under the deck does his thing. He's got some dialogue to do. He's got this funny, twitchy face. He's a terrific character in my mind".
Nien Nunb was brought to life by both a puppeteer and as a costumed-actor during the film. Initially, he was just to appear in the briefing room scenes, and the Endor celebration. For these appearances he was portrayed by stuntman Richard Bonehill, in costume and mask. However, Nunb was later chosen, by George Lucas, to appear in the Millennium Falcon, as Lando Calrissian's co pilot. Since the character now had dialogue, it was decided that the mask would be reworked into a puppet, with mechanisms to allow for moving lips and eyes. For these scenes, in the cockpit, the role was handed over to puppeteer Mike Quinn.
The character was voiced by Bill Kipsang Rotich, a Kenyan student and native Kalenjin speaker, who spoke in Kikuyu and Haya for the role. After voicing the character, Rotich became a local celebrity in his home country, as many Kenyan viewers could hear their own languages in a Star Wars film, and understand the character's dialogue.
Quinn returned to the role for The Force Awakens, without Bonehill, who died in February 2015. Rotich was also tracked down in his native Kenya, by Star Wars actor Christian Simpson, to voice the character again.
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Over three years after the rescue of the Alderaanians, Nunb once again worked with Princess Leia on a secret mission as part of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. Shortly thereafter, Nunb was a member of the Alliance Fleet and was selected to fly as co-pilot to General Calrissian aboard the Millennium Falcon during the Battle of Endor, where the Falcon led the assault to destroy the Death Star II. Before the battle, when the Alliance Fleet was gathered near Sullust, Nunb expressed concern about the plan of attack and whether General Han Solo, Princess Organa, and their team would be able to successfully destroy the Death Star's shield generator on the moon of Endor before the fleet arrived. Calrissian assured him that Solo would have the shield down on schedule.
With Nunb and Calrissian in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon leading the attack, the Alliance Fleet arrived over Endor to find that the shield generator was still active, quickly realizing that the battle was a trap set by the Emperor, Darth Sidious, to engage and destroy the Rebel Alliance once and for all. The fleet remained over Endor and engaged Imperial forces in the hopes that Solo and his team would still be able to complete their mission and destroy the generator. The fleet kept to fighting TIE/LN starfighters and Star Destroyers, particularly once they learned that the Death Star was operational, after previously believing that it did not yet have the use of its primary, planet-destroying superlaser. Once Solo's team destroyed the shield generator, the Millennium Falcon entered the Death Star's superstructure and fired the shot that began a chain reaction that led to the battle station's destruction. Calrissian and Nunb were in a race against time as they outran the fireball that their attack created, and they escaped the Death Star just before it was consumed in a massive explosion. The Alliance was victorious, the Emperor was dead, and the Empire was shattered. Nunb joined his fellow Rebels on the surface of Endor where the Rebels held a celebration along with the native Ewoks, who helped Solo's team destroy the shield outpost.
The Force Awakens (2015)
Actor Mike Quinn confirmed on October 19, 2015 via Facebook that he would return in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Later on December 6, Nien Nunb's appearance was seen in a TV spot for the film.
In the film, when the First Order destroyed the Hosnian system with the use of the Starkiller, the Resistance base on D'Qar became the next target. Quickly establishing a plan to destroy Starkiller Base, Nunb, along with the rest of the Starfighter Corps, flew to the planet in an attempt to destroy its thermal oscillator and disable the weapon. During the battle, many Resistance pilots were lost before the oscillator was destroyed by Poe Dameron. Nunb was one of seven surviving X-wing pilots, and he celebrated with the rest of the Resistance upon returning to D'Qar.
The Last Jedi (2017)
In the film, Nien Nunb evacuates alongside his fellow soldiers from the Resistance base of D'Qar, and is present aboard the Raddus during the battle of the Resistance's bombers against the First Order. Nunb later escapes offscreen alongside Leia and other Resistance members to the old Rebellion base on the planet of Crait. After Luke Skywalker's sacrifice, Nunb is seen talking with Finn aboard the Millenium Falcon while escaping from the First Order's clutches once more.
Princess Leia (2015)
In the comic Star Wars: Princess Leia (2015), which is set shortly after the end of the film Episode IV: A New Hope, seconds after the medal ceremony commemorating the victory at the Battle of Yavin and the destruction of the Death Star, the Alderaanian Princess Leia Organa set out with Verlaine on a mission to unite the few Alderaanians who remained alive after the destruction of Alderaan. Their mission brought them to Sullust, where a group of Alderaanians lived in an enclave beneath the world's volcanic surface. The Galactic Empire, which used its military might to hunt the surviving Alderaanians across the galaxy, discovered Organa and her united forces on Sullust. Nunb answered Verlaine's call for help and smuggled the Alderaanians off of Sullust and into space, without detection from Imperial forces. He also provided the arms in his ship to Organa and her people, so they could be used against the Empire. Organa was grateful for Nunb's assistance and presented him with the chalcedony waves necklace that once belonged to her adoptive mother, Queen Breha Organa of Alderaan, as a token of her gratitude.
Later in the mission, Organa turned herself over to Imperial Commander Dreed on the desert world of Skaradosh in exchange for the release of Tula, an Imperial officer from Alderaan; Tula's sister, Tace, was part of Organa's group of refugees and Tula secretly manipulated her sister for information about Organa's whereabouts. Before Organa could be taken captive, the Mellcrawler arrived to rescue her, with Nunb having slipped the ship onto the planet without the orbiting Imperial forces noticing. Verlaine fired on Dreed and his Imperial stormtroopers, killing the commander while Organa and Tula were able to make their way on board. Though Organa thanked him for his efforts, Nunb said that the real test would be making it past the Imperial forces alive. The Star Destroyer in orbit detected the Mellcrawler once they received word that Dreed had been killed. Nunb launched a decoy to fool the Imperial vessels, leaving them to follow the sensor decoy as the Mellcrawler avoided their detection. The trick was successful and the Star Destroyer crew believed the Mellcrawler had been destroyed, and Organa with it. It was at that moment that a fleet of Alderaanians from Espirion arrived to assist Organa and her people. The arrival of the fleet allowed the Alderaanians to destroy the Star Destroyer, and the Alderaanian fleet escaped the wrath of the Empire. Nunb later attended a celebration in which Organa, Verlaine, and their people celebrated the success of the mission to unite them.
Nien Nunb appears as a playable Hero character in the Outer Rim expansion pack for the video game Star Wars Battlefront (2015). Nien Nunb is a "Unique" unit in the 2017 ftp Mobile game "Star Wars Force Arena" by Netmarble. He is partnered with Lando Calrissian. He uses a ranged weapon to do area of effect damage and can evade melee attackers. None of those games feature any kind of story-line.
The Nien Nunb character was produced as an action figure in Kenner's 1983 Return of the Jedi line of action figures toy line and also in Hasbro's 1997 Star Wars: The Power of the Force toy line. Funko has released two figures of him in the Star Wars Pop! line.
Nien Nunb has received positive acclaim from Kenyan audiences for speaking the language of Kikuyu. Star Wars actress Lupita Nyong'o even acknowledged this, stating "...One of the things I remember as a child connecting with Star Wars is one of the characters spoke Kikuyu, which is a Kenyan language. And I remember feeling like that made Star Wars mine...".
Nien Nunb's character was parodied in Family Guy episode 9.18, "It's a Trap!", where he is portrayed by Rallo Tubbs. Nien Nunb is also Glenn Quagmire's co-pilot in "Airport '07" when he is forced to crash land an airplane that has run out of fuel due to one of Peter Griffin's shenanigans.
Nien Nunb is brought to life in Season 2 episode of The Venture Bros. "Showdown at Cremation Creek (Part 2)". Nien Nunb was conjured from a trading card by The Alchemist, he co-pilots the X-1 in the episode.
- "Mike Quinn Interview: Nien Nunb". Star Wars Interviews. January 2010.
- Tunoi, Kevin (November 14, 2014). "We have found Bill Kipsang Rotich of Hollywood 'Star Wars' movie". SDE.
- Simpson, Christian (May 10, 2016). "The Road to Rotich: Finding Nien Nunb, Part 1". Star Wars.com.
- Ward, Jason (February 4, 2016). "Star Wars Mega Legend Mike Quinn (Nien Nunb) to return for Star Wars: Episode VIII!". Making Star Wars. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
- Schedeen, Jesse (March 4, 2015). "Star Wars: Princess Leia #1 Review". IGN. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
- Schedeen, Jesse (July 1, 2015). "Star Wars: Princess Leia #5 Review". IGN. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
- "Princess Leia #5". CBR. July 6, 2015. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
- Nien Nunb in the StarWars.com Databank