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SYFY WIRE men in black

Despite longstanding rumors, the Worm guys in 'Men in Black' are not related to Jabba the Hutt

While they may not be related, the worms are just as hedonistic as the galactic gangster.

By Josh Weiss
Men In Black (1997)

If you must follow one adage in life, follow this one: "Once you go worm, that's what you'll yearn!" Profound, ain't it?

Ever since the release of Men in Black (now streaming on Peacock!) in July of 1997, many fans have disseminated a persistent theory that the chain-smoking, cocktail-swigging Worms (or Annelids, if you prefer) we first meet in the MiB break room are related to Jabba the Hutt of Star Wars fame. It's a nifty bit of speculation, especially since George Lucas does appear on the monitor of registered extra-terrestrials living among us.

And while the two species do look, sound, and act alike — their slimy appetites for hedonistic vices alone make for a compelling argument — they do not canonically share any genetic connections. The theory was officially put to rest by Brad Abrell (voice behind one of the Worms) while speaking to Inverse for an oral history of the first movie in honor of its 25th anniversary this past summer.

"The script called for the worm guys to be conversing in some gibberish alien language in the coffee room," the actor recalled. "When Tommy Lee Jones asked my worm, 'Don't tell me we only have that powdered stuff,' my answer to him was just improvised gibberish on the spot. A few words here and there were crafted beforehand: ‘zabumba’, ‘cahuengas’, etc. Contrary to growing internet rumors, the language is not an offshoot of Huttese [from Jabba the Hutt]."

RELATED: 'Men in Black' was originally going to take place 'all over the country' - stream it on Peacock now

For context, Ed Solomon's screenplay describes their native tongue as "a combination of Esperanto and microphone feedback." Jones was apparently so captivated by the practical Worm puppets, that he "took pictures of them to show his son," Abrell added.

According to Mark Setrakian, a designer and roboticist who worked on the project, the now-famous coffee scene with the Worms (see above) was not in the original script, but something conceived by the special effects team.

"[Concept artist] Aaron Sims had sculpted these maquettes for aliens that were supposed to be maybe eight or nine feet tall, but they had been made in miniature. One of the mechanics I was working with, named Jurgen Heimann, took these things, and he made some little poly foam casts of these maquettes," Setrakian recalled during an interview with The Verge in 2017. "Then he built a little coffee break set in the mechanical shop, and we just shot this little vignette on video. He just goes, 'Okay, well this might be cool.' I sent it to [director] Barry [Sonnenfeld] and they liked the idea so much, they wrote it into the film."

The Men in Black trilogy is now streaming on Peacock.