Rian Johnson Talks About The Surprise Return of A Popular Character in STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

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About halfway through the film, a force ghost appears to help Luke Skywalker as he is about to burn the ancient Jedi writings and their tree to the ground. Yoda crashes the Star Wars: The Last Jedi party. Rian Johnson was able to get Frank Oz to reprise the role for this appearance, but also brought the lovable green character back as the classic puppet and not the CG character we saw in the Star Wars prequels. /Film spoke with Johnson about the return of Master Yoda:

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.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters now. How did you feel about seeing Yoda back up on the big screen in the movie!?

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