How Disney Kept Yoda's Appearance A Secret In Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Yoda in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was packed with a lot of surprises, but one of the more pleasant ones was an appearance from everyone's favorite small, green Jedi master, Yoda. Although he died in Return of the Jedi, Yoda popped in as a Force ghost during the latest Star Wars movie to offer Luke Skywalker some last pieces of advice. What made Yoda's The Last Jedi cameo even better was in addition to vocally reprising the character, Frank Oz also puppeteered him like he did in the old days. In order to keep Yoda's presence in The Last Jedi a secret, Disney and Lucasfilm used Oz's past work at Pinewood Studios as an excuse for why he would return there. Oz explained:

I was told that that was going to be the surprise of the movie, so when I went to Pinewood I had to be a secret there. Although if people saw me... people DID see me, but if they questioned me it would have been fine because I shot Little Shop of Horrors ... there, and could have just said I had some meetings for movies. But the idea was to keep me off the credits. I was asked, 'Could you have your name off the poster?' and I said 'Sure.' So the idea was that that would be the surprise.

Speaking with IGN, Frank Oz recalled how Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson asked him several years ago if he would be interesting in reprising Yoda. Oz was game, but was surprised to learn from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy that Yoda would be a puppet again rather than created using CGI like in the prequel trilogy. Puppeteering Yoda would require Oz to work on the sets built for The Last Jedi at Pinewood Studios, but thankfully, because he shot 1986's Little Shop of Horrors there, if anyone unrelated to the crew spotted him, he could just say he was there meeting about other projects. Throw in Oz's name being left off The Last Jedi poster, and for most of the people who saw the movie in theaters, Yoda suddenly showing up most definitely came as a surprise.

Although Lucasfilm does a better job than most studios of keeping plot details secret, it's still not entirely immune to leaks. Eventually rumors of Yoda popping up in what was then simply known as Episode VIII started to come out, though it was never revealed exactly how he fit into the movie. Ultimately, Yoda revisited Luke Skywalker to tell him that the sacred Jedi texts he'd kept in Ahch-To were not as important the Jedi themselves passing along their knowledge, and he destroyed the tree that contained the texts with a bolt of Force lightning to get his point across (although unbeknownst to Luke, Rey had already transferred them to the Millennium Falcon before departing). It remains to be seen if we'll ever see Yoda on the big screen again, but with Luke sacrificing his life at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, at least he and his former master can now hang out in the Force netherworld together.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now available on Digital HD, and the Blu-ray and DVD copies will hit shelves next Tuesday, March 27. The franchise continues with the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story on May 25, and the current trilogy will conclude when Episode IX comes out on December 20, 2019.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.