By now, we’re assuming, most have seen “Star Wars : The Last Jedi” and by now, we’re also assuming, you’ve changed your pants after all the excitement of seeing wise old Jedi master Yoda back on screen.
In an interview with Uproxx, writer-director Rian Johnson explained why he needed Luke’s mentor back for the new film.
“The idea that the last time Luke saw Yoda was in Return of the Jedi and the notion of getting back to that version of Yoda to form the emotional connection with Luke – including a glimpse of the impishness, as part of their relationship. It made a lot of sense.”
Johnson and voice-over genius Frank Oz agreed that the version of Yoda that should be in the film should be the original puppet, as opposed to the CGI version, and the one that we first met on the swampy hole in “Empire Strikes Back”.
“That felt really important to me. And, actually, I cut some of that out and Frank Oz said to me I had to put it back. Because when I first pitched him the scene, it’s like the Yoda from Empire is back because that’s the one Luke had the emotional connection with. And that’s why we did the puppet and recreated the Empire puppet: Neal Scanlan and his team did a recreation of the Yoda puppet. It’s not only a puppet, it’s an exact replica of the Empire puppet. They found the original molds for it. They found the woman that painted the original eyes for Yoda. Then Frank came and worked with them for a few weeks to get the puppet right. He did a lot of testing and a lot of adjusting with the puppet creators. It was amazing to watch the process. The idea that the last time Luke saw Yoda was in Return of the Jedi and the notion of getting back to that version of Yoda to form the emotional connection with Luke – including a glimpse of the impishness, as part of their relationship. It made a lot of sense.”
And there’s a reason why it was Yoda and not Anakin Skywalker or Ben Kenobi that appeared, in ghostly form to Luke. Johnson told Collider : “Yoda, I came to the realization pretty early, once I realized Luke’s arc, that Yoda would be able to play a great place in it. The reason he’s in it, though, is because he has a relationship with Luke going back, and he can speak truth to power. He can come in and set Luke straight. And the truth is, Anakin would, I guess, be Hayden [Christiansen] who would be young Anakin, who Luke never had a relationship with that version of Anakin, so there would not be that emotional connection there for Luke. Similar with Obi-Wan. I would have loved to have brought Ewan [McGregor] in, but the truth is, Luke never had a relationship with young Obi-Wan, it was without Alec Guinness and I didn’t want to create a digital version of Alec Guinness. So, Yoda was the obvious go-to in terms of if Luke is going to have a point of connection to the past that’s going to kind of kick his butt, then we can recreate Yoda and we can bring Frank Oz in to do it, and besides, that’ll be really fun.”
It was probably the worst kept secret in all of “Star Wars” land that Yoda was returning for this new trilogy but alas, it was still super cool.