Which Iconic Sci-Fi Movie Character Was Almost Played By A Monkey?
Yoda, the sage, small, and thoroughly iconic elder Jedi from the Star Wars universe, was first seen on screen in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. While the concept of Yoda might have come from the mind of George Lucas, the mannerism and soul of Yoda came from the master puppeteer behind him: Frank Oz. Armed with the Yoda puppet designed by the brilliant make-up and special FX artist Stuart Freeborn, Oz lent his voice and skill at animating puppets to the endeavor, and one of the most iconic characters in the history of sci-fi was passed down to us as a wise, head cocking, sentence reversing master.
That, however, wasn’t the original plan. Early on in the design and development of the movie, someone decided the best plan for Yoda would be to train a monkey to wear a mask and walk with a cane. You’re likely shaking your head reading this, we shook our heads writing it, and thankfully, someone at Lucasfilm started shaking their head some thirty odd years ago and scrapped the whole plan. The monkey didn’t take well to the mask, never liked the cane, and was found to be entirely unmanageable. In the face of that, they called in world class puppeteer Frank Oz and instead of a belligerent monkey in a suit, we got an amazing and lovingly crafted human-driven performance.
Image courtesy of Lucasfilm.