Frank Oz is one of the longest-lasting actors of the Star Wars movie franchise, but that doesn't mean he's expecting to bring Yoda to life via old school puppetry in a potential spinoff film.
Oz first appeared as the riddle-talking Jedi Master back in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, and has since voiced - as well as largely puppeteered - the green Jedi Master ever since, in both live-action films and animated TV series. However, with rumors of a Yoda spin-off movies going as far back as 2013, what does the man behind the master think his character's chances are when it comes to getting his own starring vehicle?
Yoda's surprise appearance in Star Wars: The Last Jedi saw Oz bring the character to life as a practical puppet for the first time since 1999's The Phantom Menace. Speaking to IGN, Oz reflected on the many years he has put into the legacy of Yoda, but doesn't sound quite so convinced that he could "pull the strings" on an anthology movie:
"Believe me. That’s way too difficult for me. I rehearse a long time just to do one line of dialogue [as a puppeteer]. It would have to be [CGI], yeah. It would have to be. It’s far, far too difficult because I’m doing it with three other people. So it’s four people and you can’t just wing it. You’ve got to study every single word with four people."
While having Yoda play a mentor role in the Dagobah system or pop up on a rock on Ahch-To is complicated enough, focussing on a young Yoda who is back to back-flipping like in Attack of the Clones sounds impossible for a puppetry team to do without looking dated. However, audiences only have to look at how emotional Mark Hamill got coming face-to-face with Yoda after all these years to see that a Yoda movie based on his formative years could be a big hit with a lot of Star Wars fandom.
Yoda's CGI history is something of a sketchy one, seeing as Oz reprised his role after Return of the Jedi for The Phantom Menace. Sadly, this was the last time he would voice and portray the iconic character until The Last Jedi in 2017. George Lucas opted for a CGI version to show off a younger Yoda for the rest of his prequel trilogy, and later added a CGI version instead of the puppet for the 2011 Blu-ray re-release of The Phantom Menace.
Hollywood only has to look at the current atmosphere against CGI mustaches and such to see that feelings haven't changed toward this method of filmmaking over the years. From a proposed Gremlins reboot to the promises of the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, most directors know it is impossible to beat the realistic feel of animatronics, meaning that even the best CGI has aged considerably over the years. Interestingly though, Oz doesn't count himself out of voicing Yoda if he gets his own time to shine, so it could be a case of "Spin-off movie, see we could" somewhere on the Star Wars slate.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019