In the face of the vocal backlash against Star Wars: The Last Jedi by a sizeable amount of fans, many cast and crew members from the movie have spoken out in defense of writer/director Rian Johnson’s bold, revisionist take on the franchise. The likes of Domhnall Gleeson, Warwick Davis and The Force Awakens’ helmer J.J. Abrams have all stood up for the divisive Episode VIII. And now, we can add another name to this list, someone whose words Star Wars lovers should be inclined to take seriously: Yoda himself, Frank Oz.
The franchise mainstay revealed to Collider that he just doesn’t understand the negative reception that The Last Jedi has garnered. To him, Johnson provided a “great” script and, in particular, his cameo in the film felt “organic” to him and what transpired seemed appropriate for “the moment and the character” of Yoda.
“Yeah, there’s a whole backlash. I couldn’t understand that whole backlash. I didn’t get it,” Oz said. “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.”
Oz is referring to the scene in The Last Jedi where Yoda’s Force-ghost appears to a despondent Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Just as Luke has decided not to destroy the Sacred Texts of the Jedi and end the order forever, Yoda playfully sends a bolt of lightning down to burn them, saying that the Jedi will live on through Rey and not those dusty books. What annoyed some about this scene was the “extra powers,” as Oz puts it, that the character possessed here (the Thor-like ability to summon lightning).
For those interested in how Yoda’s part in the movie was technically achieved, Oz revealed that it was a very laborious process, despite how brief the character appears for on screen. He explained that he didn’t only provide the Jedi’s iconic voice but also led the puppeteering of the character, along with three other operatives. Coordinating Yoda’s movements proved to be extremely time-consuming, too.
“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.”
Continuing on, he said:
“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.”
For more of Oz’s thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, including working with Mark Hamill for the first time in decades, check out Collider’s interview via the link below.