Some on-line sources identify Mardji as an African bush elephant, rather than an Asian elephant, and describe her as being born wild in the African savanna. However, pictures of Mardji appear to be of a female Asian elephant (among other differences, she was tuskless, like most Asian elephant cows).
Mardji was transported from Marine World Africa USA in Redwood City, California, to a Star Wars shooting location in Death Valley, California. There, she was outfitted with a bantha costume, made up of layers of fur and a lightweight horned headpiece. Though Mardji was a well-trained elephant, she had difficulty adjusting to her costume, often trying to remove it while the cameras were rolling. Since the filmmakers could only afford a single dressed-up elephant, the scene where Luke Skywalker spotted two Banthas side by side was realized through optical compositing.
During the production of Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, footage of Mardji was taken by a team including special effects artists Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett and Jon Berg. This footage was used as a reference for how the AT-ATs should move.
Several years after her death, she inspired the use of dog actors for the Corellian hounds of the 2018 Star Wars Anthology film Solo: A Star Wars Story, as revealed in The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
- "Star News"—Star Wars Insider 28
- "Around the Galaxy"—Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 6
- "The Toughest Ever Creatures"—Star Wars Insider 102
- "The Star Wars Archive"—Star Wars Insider 200
Notes and references
- Mardji in the Star Wars Actors Database (content no longer available: see archived version at Archive.org)