On the 40th anniversary of Empire Strikes Back, arguably the greatest entry in the Skywalker Saga, series creator George Lucas sat down with StarWars.com to discuss everything from Death Star II to Vader, A New Hope to the birth of Lucasfilm.
It’s a fascinating interview about Hollywood’s best-loved sequel (if not the best, it’s certainly up there), and it includes a little bit of insight into the introduction of Yoda, the all-wise, all-knowing Star Wars legend who would help keep Luke Skywalker on the straight and narrow as he trained to defeat Vader and the dreaded Palpatine.
Indeed, it was Empire that pulled the rug out from all of us in 1980, when Lucas and director Irvin Kershner revealed Darth Vader to be the father of Luke Skywalker. It was a movie twist so secret that lead star Mark Hamill kept his silence for an entire year.
But on the topic of Yoda, George Lucas held his hands up to admit that he initially had some reservations about the pint-sized character, telling StarWars.com:
I didn’t really understand it until the first day of shooting, and seeing the dailies and seeing it in action and under the right lighting conditions. A lot of those things, like Yoda, got finished like an hour before we shot it. Everything was always on the run. So I finally got to see the whole thing finished, put together, lit properly, and that’s when I knew it was going to work. Before that I had to rely on Frank Oz. Frank had performed great in rehearsals and Stuart Freeborn was working very diligently on trying to get the puppet to work, but it didn’t convince me until I saw the actual movie.
MORE FROM THE WEB
Fast forward to 2019 and Lucas has been pictured cradling a puppet of Baby Yoda, the cutesy side-character of The Mandalorian who has since taken the Internet by storm. Granted, it’s not the same character from Lucasfilm’s Original Trilogy, but the hype and excitement generated by little Baby Yoda is just a modern example that, yes, inserting Yoda into the fabric of Empire Strikes Back worked like a charm.
If you’re wanting to revisit Empire to mark its 40th birthday, the entire Skywalker Saga is now available to stream via Disney+ – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker included, which was added to the library in time for May 4th.