frank oz yoda

The gang was back together in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.  Sure most of the focus were on newbies Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren, but it was certainly a thrill for older fans to see the original ‘Star Wars’ ensemble– Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca and even R2-D2 and C-3PO– back on the big screen.  There’s been no mention of Billy Dee Williams reprising his role as Lando Calrissian, but since he didn’t pop up until the second classic movie, maybe he’ll do the same with the new trilogy.  And what about another major character that not only appeared in the second two originals, but in the prequels– none other than Jedi master Yoda?  Turns out, there were plans to include the diminutive mentor, originally a practical effects puppet, then CGI in the prequels.  In both cases, Yoda was portrayed by master puppeteer Frank Oz (who also plays Miss Piggy from The Muppets!) and he actually came in and gave a Yoda performance for ‘The Force Awakens’… which didn’t make the film!

The movie’s editor Maryann Brandon recently divulged a bit about this material, saying:

“There was one point where we were actually thinking of having Yoda in the film, and then we decided not to. Frank Oz came in for a day and did a whole bunch of Yoda and he was over the moon to do it — and we were tickled pink!”

Oz’s voice did make the final cut, as part of Rey’s hallucination after she touches Luke Skywalker’s old lightsabre.

Brandon does say that the creators were simply “thinking” about including Yoda and the fact that Oz only came in for one day and “did a whole bunch of Yoda” sounds like maybe he simply recorded some dialogue (possibly ad-libbed) to give a feel of how the character could be included.

Oz returned in classic form in ‘The Phantom Menace’ using an old school puppet to deliver his performance, but the reaction to it was negative and George Lucas replaced it with CGI for the video release.  ‘The Force Awakens’ introduced the very Yoda-like Maz Kanata who was rendered in mo-cap CGI based on a performance by Lupita Nyong’o.

But as stated, Yoda, like Lando, didn’t appear until ‘Empire’ so maybe there will be room for both of them to return in ‘Episode VIII’.

Would you like to see Yoda in upcoming ‘Star Wars’ movies?  Do you have a preference between CGI or practical puppetry?

Source: Screen Rant