The man was Frank Oz and not only did he do the voice of Yoda and most of the puppetry work, he is also responsible for quite a bit of Yoda’s character as well, including the distinct “Yodic” style of speech (Object, Subject, Verb).
Besides Yoda, Miss Piggy, and the Cookie Monster, Oz did the characters Fozzie Bear, Animal, Grover, Sam the Eagle, and Bert (from Bert and Ernie). Oz also famously directed The Muppets Take Manhattan; The Little Shop of Horrors; What About Bob?; The Indian in the Cupboard; The Score; and The Stepford Wives, among others.
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- Oz reprised his role as Yoda in The Phantom Menace and was used as the voice of Yoda in Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith, at which point Yoda was completely computer generated; a move that was praised by Oz for the versatility it added to what Yoda could do in the film, but condemned by many critics and fans.
- Yoda’s original name before being shortened to just “Yoda” was “Minch Yoda”. Lucas eventually decided to leave the first name out along with not giving away many details about Yoda’s past.
- In “The Phantom Menace”, in scenes where Yoda was walking around, Warwick Davis played Yoda, obviously in a Yoda suit.
- Warwick Davis got his first movie role at the age of 11 playing Wicket the Ewok. Davis was originally cast as an Ewok extra, but the actor who originally was going to play Wicket, Kenny Baker, got sick and Warwick was selected to take over.
- Ron Howard and George Lucas wrote Willow with Warwick Davis in mind to play the staring role, even though he was just 17 when he was offered the role and 18 when the movie was filmed. This was Davis’ first role where his face was visible.
- Davis is more recently known for his role has Filius Flitwick in the Harry Potter series. He will also play the Goblin Bank Teller in Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows, replacing dwarf actor Verne Troyer who played the role in the previous Harry Potters.
- The Ewoks were named after the Native American tribe Miwok. The Miwok’s lived in the Redwood forest that is the setting for the Endor scenes on Return of the Jedi.
- “Adventures of Luke Starkiller, As Taken From the Journal of the Whills, Saga 1: The Star Wars” was the original title of “Star Wars: A New Hope”
- R2-D2’s name came from the movie-maker lingo “reel 2, dialog 2″.
- George Lucas was so enamored with Oz’s performance of Yoda on Empire Strikes Back that he tried to get Oz an Oscar nomination for “Best Supporting Actor”.
- The voice of Yoda on the radio dramatizations of the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi was done by John Lithgow.
- Miss Piggy’s full name is “Pigathia Lee”, as revealed on episode 106 and 116 of The Muppet Show. “Pigathia” is derived from”Piganthius”, which is Greek for “river of passion”.
- Frank Oz officially retired as Miss Piggy in 2002, being replaced by Eric Jacobson.
- Famed Puppeteer Jim Henson aided makeup artist Stuart Freeborn in creating the Yoda puppet used in the films. It was Henson who suggested to Lucas that he use Frank Oz for Yoda’s voice and as the puppeteer.
- Jim Henson got his first taste of puppetry in an applied arts course in college where he studied Home Economics. In his early career, he primarily made commercials, including over 300 coffee advertisements using his Muppets.
- Jim Henson’s work on Sesame Street has been called the “spark that ignited” the Public Broadcasting Network.
- Henson and Oz helped produce a series of sketches on the first season of Saturday Night Live using their puppets as the staring characters.
- Henson is one of only two people who appear on the Hollywood Walk of Fame twice. He appears as Kermit the Frog and himself.
- The Mel Blanc is the other person who appears on the Walk of Fame twice. He appears as Bugs Bunny and himself.
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