The Mandalorian Star Says He Instantly Knew Baby Yoda Would Be A Hit

The Mandalorian

The most hyped Star Wars event of 2019, The Rise of Skywalker, turned out to be a damp squib. So thank heavens we at least got The Mandalorian. Jon Favreau’s Western/Samurai inspired Disney+ show kept things relatively small-scale, showed us some neat parts of the Star Wars universe and featured an incredible cast. But there was one element that elevated it to the cultural stratosphere: Baby Yoda.

The pint-size Force user was an instant hit and the breakout star of the series. Disney seemed to be uncharacteristically on the back foot over his popularity, failing to produce much merchandise for the character and missing out on what would probably have been the toy of the 2019 holiday season. But those working on the show knew that he’d be big right from the outset.

Series star Pedro Pascal recently discussed his reaction to seeing Baby Yoda concept art for the first time, saying:

“I can’t bring myself to lie and be like ‘We had no idea of the sensation that he would be’. We never talked about it being a sure thing, but I unconsciously kept to myself that the very first time I saw the image in the illustration during that first meeting, I was like ‘Oh my God, people are going to lose their mind over that’. So basically it was no surprise.”

He went on to praise the production team for how well they executed the effects on set, explaining:

“It was incredible just to see how talented the departments are. It was just unbelievable, from the production design to the company, Legacy Effects, that created the doll and so many of the props and creatures. There’s all the history they bring to it from the other films and from their experiences on other films. You’re among the best and so you just really have to make yourself a passenger to that. To see them care for the doll and also find different ways for it to express itself and become an incredible scene partner is incredibly fascinating. It’s a pretty adorable thing.”

It’s interesting how much better Baby Yoda was thanks to the effects team using the physical puppet as much as possible. The audience can see he’s obviously a puppet, but the simple fact that he’s directly interacting with the cast and sets makes him much easier to accept as real. In a recent interview with Werner Herzog, he even revealed that the producers were considering replacing the puppet with a CGI version. The actor rightly pushed back though, saying that they should have faith in the doll and not be “cowardly.” Clearly, this was the right call.

So, what’s next for Baby Yoda? Well, it seems that the second season of The Mandalorian won’t be delayed by Coronavirus, so expect it to land sometime in late 2020. In the meantime, you can see much more behind-the-scenes footage from the show in upcoming documentary series Disney Gallery: The Mandalorianwhich drops May 4th on Disney+.