Collider caught up with Frank Oz talking about Muppet Guys Talking, and towards the end of the interview they discussed the return of Yoda in The Last Jedi….
Collider: When I spoke to you last year…I believe it was in the end of October, I had zero knowledge, no idea, that you were going to be involved in The Last Jedi. If you wouldn’t mind indulging me for a second, do you mind talking about The Last Jedi for a second?
FRANK OZ: Sure.
I love the movie and think Rian did such a fantastic job. When did you first find out that Rian wanted to work with you on Last Jedi. How did that come about?
FRANK OZ: Well, it was a few years ago. I was in Toronto, I think, I’m not sure. He might have been in Toronto or he might have flown up to see me, I’m not quite sure. We had lunch and he asked me if I wanted to be Yoda there and I said sure. I thought it was CGI, so I was shocked when I found out they really wanted to do the real Yoda, because that’s a huge, massive undertaking. But that’s what they did. It just began with Rian- and it made sense. You couldn’t have CGI Yoda with Mark, Luke, because Luke wouldn’t know a CGI Yoda. The only Yoda Luke knew was a puppet character.
I pretty much freaked out in the theater the first time I saw it because not only was Yoda there, but it wasn’t the CGI Yoda, it was the Yoda that I knew. It meant a lot to me.
FRANK OZ: I’m so pleased.
I think I speak for a lot of fans- the Yoda puppet meant a lot. So, because I have no idea- how involved were you in doing everything on set?
FRANK OZ: 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. 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.
I would imagine that there were a lot of people on set that wanted to see you work and see this being filmed. Did you get the vibe when you were doing it, you know how special it was to so many people? Were there extra people there watching?
FRANK OZ: Well, I didn’t pay attention because I am very, very focused. I have to get the best job I can possibly get- that’s all I care about, is the quality. But my wife was there, and she said, I guess this is true, but she said everybody was working and then when I came on the screen everybody completely stopped working. That’s kind of exciting, but I didn’t notice it because I’m too involved. But that’s a wonderful feeling, I guess. If I felt it. (laughs).
Read the full interview at the link below.