Star Wars has a long history of using repurposed items as props. The best example of this is the original lightsaber, which was just a Graflex flashgun, essentially a camera's flashbulb. 

Other props were borrowed from other shows and movies, in the case of bounty hunter Bossk's flight suit in The Empire Strikes Back, that costume is from a Doctor Who episode. And countless other props which found their way to a Galaxy Far, Far Away thanks to the scrappy ingenuity of the prop masters on set and behind the camera. 

But Star Wars has come a long way since the original trilogy and tight budgetsWe're officially in the House of Mouse era, and Disney has more money than Fort Knox. Suffice it to say, props don't get made how they used to. 3D printers have taken over as the main suppliers of modern props. And Disney has designers, engineers, and prop masters who can turn out functional lightsabers with extending LEDs to give you the full effect. 

The business has changed. 

And I figured everyone knew that, which is why a recent report about the latest Star Wars show struck me so odd. The story, as done by my prior colleagues over at The Drive, speculated that the Cortosis helmet worn by the Qimir—The Good Place's Manny Jacinto—in Disney's new Star Wars show, The Acolyte, was actually a motorcycle helmet in disguise.

No, that doesn't track. 

Star Wars: The Acolyte

Now, I'm a major Star Wars nerd, as well as someone who runs a powersports website. I've been watching The Acolyte each week as new episodes drop. And I've worn my fair share of motorcycle helmets over the years, as evidenced by the litany of them mounted behind my office desk. At no point during my watch of the first few episodes did I think Jacinto's helmet was motorcycle-based, both because of the aforementioned money Disney throws at these productions—$180 million in the case of The Acolyte—and because it doesn't look like one. It's way too form-fitting. Motorcycle helmets make you look like a bobblehead. 

But to actually see what was what, I reached out to The Acolyte's costume designer, Jennifer Bryan, whose credits also include Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Halt and Catch Fire, and Genius: Aretha, who graciously gave me the low-down on the helmet, as well as the inspiration for it, too.

Yeah, it isn't a motorcycle helmet. 

"I've always, always, always, on the design side, wanted to do something that was world-building where you truly had to dig deep into your imagination, your well of imagination, and your sourcing and the show was able to fulfill that dream," Bryan tells me over a Zoom call. 

As for the helmet's design inspiration, "I went to cultures that were outside of the Anglo-Saxon bubble that earlier Star Wars tended to be with a little bit of Samurai and Japanese influence that George Lucas so wisely, you know put in. That whole outfit that I designed definitely was from samurai influences, of course my imagination and interpretation of that, and then the helmet was, was truly a co-production of myself and the Creatures' department's Neal Scanlan." 

There was, however, some moto traits within the helmet's design.

Star Wars: The Acolyte

While the overall design has parts from Vader's helmet, along with samurai, and Jennifer's own brain, the rear cowl was partially taken from a motorcycle racing helmet. "We just kept going and then it's sort of like taking the elements of some of these designs that [showrunner Leslye Headland] liked and we put them together," Bryan states, adding, "Sometimes they were off because, you know, when you Chinese menu something, you take something from column A and something from column B, you take them out of their columns, they don't necessarily meld." 

"I think what you saw as a rider and might've gotten drawn to it, is probably the rear flare" Bryan states, and tells me they looked at motorcycle helmets that part of the design cohesive. "So it wasn't, at least on my part, inspiration from a motorcycle helmet. But what I do know and we did talk about this is that it had to really cover your face and really hide all your identity the way a modern motorcycle helmet does," she says. "Is it male, female, young, old? You really can't tell with modern motorcycle helmets. So it was that kind of thing that I would say was definitely an inspiration. And we had lots of conversations about where the back, the flange part, we needed to get it to transition from the cloak to the edge of the helmet without showing skin, but giving mobility to, you know, move up and down."

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The end result was more samurai helmet, as well as the flare seen in World War II era British and Nazi helmets. 

As for the prop itself, I asked Bryan whether it was a repurposed motorcycle helmet or a full-on creature effect by Scanlan, to which she stated, "It was [a creature effect]. I remember Creatures did a cast so [Headland] could physically see it, you know, because again, it has to translate from paper to the item. I think they case like three to four different prototypes. It was definitely a collaboration."

The actual helmet used in the show, then, was a mixture of molded units and 3D-printed units, though. "We use 3D printers now, as they're pretty common. I think they might have molded the ones for stunts, and probably 3D printed the main ones, because you have to have backups." 

Star Wars: The Acolyte

On the stunt side, Bryan told me an interesting fact that makes complete sense in terms of prop production, which was that each of the stunt people would need separate helmets because, "You know, they have to make small tweaks for each person's facial anatomy because that [eye] slit was really very narrow." Again, that'd be hard to do with a repurposed motorcycle helmet. 

"3D printing has come so far for proper work," she says. And as an aside, Bryan also told me Jacinto did a lot of his own stunt work, which isn't so much as interesting to this story, as much as I just dig learning more about stunts. 

So, yeah, Darth Jason Mendoza from Jacksonville, Florida's helmet wasn't a motorcycle helmet. I mean, he's from Florida, he wouldn't be caught dead (pun intended) with a motorcycle helmet. It was, in fact, a proper prop built by the master magicians at Lucasfilm. 

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