Two years ago, 19-year-old Sara Maria Forsberg from Pietarsaari, Finland created a video called “What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners” and posted it on YouTube. The clip went viral — it’s been viewed over 15 million times. Now, her talent for talking gibberish has taken her to a galaxy far, far away.
Forsberg, now 21, is the creator of the alien language spoken in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — a project she hasn’t been able to speak about to anyone since last April. “Keeping the secret has been horrible, because it would have been nice when promoting your new career, to tell people, ‘Hey I worked on the “Star Wars” movie,’ but I had to just humbly wait,” says the singer, who’s been signed to Capitol Records. “Now that I can talk about it, it feels amazing.”
When Forsberg was initially approached, a month after her original YouTube video went viral, she had a hard time believing the offer was real. But once the paperwork arrived — along with a confidentiality agreement — she was convinced, and she was tasked with creating a brand new language.
She received a partial script and translated the alien dialogue into her new creation. “They asked me to listen to Euro-Asian languages, so I listened to Gujarati and Hindi and languages from different islands in Asia,” says Forsberg, who herself is fluent in Finnish, Swedish and English. “I also watched YouTube videos of languages I didn’t understand at all, and then I worked on creating words and structure so it would sound like a believable language. I didn’t want it to sound like complete nonsense.”
The project took her a little over a month, from start to finish. The sound files were then delivered to the dialect coaches, who taught the actors how to pronounce the words as she had invented.
Forsberg was invited to the set, but was unable to make the trip. Fortunately, she was able to make it to Monday’s premiere in Hollywood. She admits she teared up watching her work on the big screen. “I felt like I had finally accomplished something concrete, and to see my name in the credits was incredible,” says Forsberg, who’d never seen a “Star Wars” movie before. “When the director [J.J. Abrams] thanked me on stage, it felt really good to be Sara Forsberg.”
As for any future assignments, she can only speculate. “We’ve formed a relationship with Lucasfilm, and should there be more ‘Star Wars’ films I would be thrilled to expand on this language,” she says, admitting she hasn’t named her creation yet. “Maybe in the future I’ll be able to fine-tune it so it will even be teachable.”
See Forsberg’s original hit video below: