If you ever watched The Muppet Show, Sesame Street or a Star Wars movie then you’re at least familiar with some of Frank Oz’s work and in a recent on-line interview he talked about The Last Jedi and Yoda.
Frank Oz is known for his work as a puppeteer with the Muppets. Some of his best-known characters included Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and Sam Eagle on The Muppet Show, and Grover, Cookie Monster and Bert on Sesame Street.
If you are an avid Star Wars fan then you know Frank Oz best as the performer and voice of Jedi Master Yoda. Oz first performed as the Jedi puppet in 1980’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back. Oz would perform as the Yoda puppet again in 1983’s Return of the Jedi and 1999’s The Phantom Menace, but only provided the voice of Yoda in 2002’s Attack of the Clones and 2005’s Revenge of the Sith as Yoda was created digitally.
In a recent interview over at Collider about his new documentary, Muppet Guys Talking, Frank Oz talked about performing on the set of The Last Jedi as puppet Yoda once again, Rian Johnson and his thoughts on the movies black lash.
Frank was asked how he found out that Rian Johnson wanted Frank to work on The Last Jedi and how it came about?
“I was in Toronto, I think, I’m not sure. He might have been in Toronto or he might have flown up to see me, I’m not quite sure. We had lunch and he asked me if I wanted to be Yoda there and I said sure. I thought it was CGI, so I was shocked when I found out they really wanted to do the real Yoda, because that’s a huge, massive undertaking. But that’s what they did. It just began with Rian- and it made sense. You couldn’t have CGI Yoda with Mark, Luke, because Luke wouldn’t know a CGI Yoda. The only Yoda Luke knew was a puppet character.”
Frank’s involvement on set with Yoda was also brought up and how much work went into brining the puppet to life.
“I was everything. That’s what they hired me for. They had two people, three people turn on a grate to help me. It’s a four-person character. I flew back and forth to London about three times and rehearsed for a couple weeks with them. It’s very intense rehearsal because you have four people trying to do one thing, very, very specifically. So, every single word, every single move, had to be rehearsed again and again. Therefore, we don’t take time on the set. The last time I flew over there, I rehearsed with the three guys again, and then we went and shot for a day and a half- night and a half.”
The last time Frank Oz performed as Yoda with Mark Hamill was during the filming of Return of The Jedi. Frank talks about how easy it was to do so once again and why Mark Hamill’s performance is key in making Yoda believable.
“It was like an old glove. It just felt so at home, you know. Mark is a wonderful, great, great guy. People don’t realize that a great part of the reason why Yoda works, is because of Mark. It’s because if Mark doesn’t believe in that character, nobody else will. What he does there is extremely important, always has been. When we got together it was just like old times. He never changed; he is just a wonderful guy- very funny too.”
If you’ve seen ‘The Last Jedi” then your very much aware of the backlash the film has received since opening in theaters back in December. Mr. Oz was asked about Rian Johnson expanding the mythology and why some fans were not open to the idea.
“Yeah, there’s a whole backlash. I couldn’t understand that whole backlash. I didn’t get it. I thought it was a great piece of work. I never understood that backlash. I’m somebody that works with the script, and if the script is there and I believe the script is organic and right for the moment and the character, then that’s kind of all I think about. I don’t think about extra powers or anything, I just go with it. I just don’t consider that really.”
If you would like to read more about Frank Oz and his work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi you can head over to Collider. If you want to learn more about his work on the Muppets and his Documentary, Muppet Guys Talking you can check out that interview also on Collider.