Yoda in The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is filled with surprises and one of them is the appearance of a character few of us expected to show up in this particular Skywalker saga episode. While talking with writer/director Rian Johnson, I learned the story behind this special moment.

Major spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi follow.

Yoda in The Last Jedi

Yoda in The Last Jedi

Yoda returns in Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a force ghost who talks to Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker just as he is about to set the first Jedi library ablaze on Ach-To. I love that Johnson was not only able to get Frank Oz back for this appearance, but was also able to bring him back as a classic puppet and not the CG animated version of the character we saw in the Star Wars prequels. Here is an excerpt from my conversation with Johnson where he talks about the return of Yoda in The Last Jedi.

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Can you talk about getting Frank Oz back as Yoda?

Yeah.  Oh my God, man, when I realized that Yoda was going to have a place in this story and also I realized it’s Luke and Yoda and the Yoda that Luke has the emotional connection with is one from the original trilogy…  I thought oh, holy shit, we can do the puppet.  And so Neal Scanlan, our creature supervisor, his team found the original molds.  They meticulously recreated the puppet.  Frank came and spent like three weeks, not even rehearsing, but just working with the puppet engineers on getting the balance of it and getting it all perfectly right.

They tracked down the woman who painted Yoda’s original eyes and had her paint new eyes for him.  I mean,  just every single thing. And then Frank… We had a magical night where Frank came and puppeteered the Yoda.  He’s done there underneath the boards with the headset on watching the monitor down there and doing his magic.  And we shot the scene the way they would have back when they did Empire.  It’s pretty cool.

That scene was awesome.

Pretty fucking cool.

Did Yoda know that Rey took the books?

Oh, of course, yeah.

So that’s why he didn’t care…

Well, and also he has a line in there, if you watch it again, listen, he makes explicit reference to her taking the books.

She has everything she needs.” When I saw it the second time I was like oh…

Ah ha, you sneaky, little Muppet.

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