Star Wars’ Ewan McGregor Jokes About ‘Disturbing’ Time Acting With Yoda’s Puppet In Phantom Menace

Yoda puppet in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
(Image credit: (Lucasfilm))

Oftentimes when an actor in a major franchise is asked what it was like to work with another character, especially if they are green, they may not have an answer. These days, so many major productions about science fiction or fantasy worlds have the talent leave their surroundings and scene partners up to their own imaginations. But when it comes to the Star Wars movies, there’s a lot more practical movie magic at work. Ewan McGregor got to experience it firsthand when he first played Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode I: The Phantom Menace opposite Yoda himself!

Not many people can say they got to work with Yoda, but Ewan McGregor had the pleasure. When the Obi-Wan Kenobi actor recently spoke with The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal about their Star Wars stories, he shared what it was really like working opposite the Yoda puppet:

I couldn’t believe I was acting with Yoda. There’s so many people operating him, and the stage is lifted up so they’re underneath the floor and we were literally walking next to each other — and he’s alive. Then every time George called cut, Yoda would die, because everyone just stops operating him. It was sort of disturbing every time the end of the scene would come along.

I mean, can you imagine working with someone, and every so often they spontaneously fall to the floor? It sounds like it would be an odd experience, and that’s how Ewan McGregor describes his experience working with the Yoda puppet. He described sharing a scene with him when Yoda walked alongside him in Phantom Menace as an unbelievable experience and a bit ‘disturbing’ how his behavior would change between scenes.

Ewan McGregor is currently back as Obi-Wan Kenobi for the upcoming Disney+ series that reunites him with Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker. When swapping Star Wars experiences with Pedro Pascal to Variety, he shared how the Prequel Trilogy’s decision to make Yoda CGI made him miss his puppet scene partner:

They replaced him for our second and third film with the digital version of him and it never felt nearly as endearing. And also we know Yoda as a puppet from the original three movies. So, when it was suddenly computer generated, it didn’t feel like Yoda to me anymore, you know? It’s interesting that they went back to using an actual puppet for [The Mandalorian].

Twenty years later, the big Star Wars star is obviously Baby Yoda (known officially as Grogu), who is once again a puppet. Ewan McGregor was pleased to hear Star Wars went back to using more practical effects for the Disney+ series, including the Obi-Wan show, where the actor said he gets to play against palpable sets.

Ewan McGregor has been open about some challenges he found when working against green screens in past Star Wars films. This time around though, he is pleased to be working alongside the groundbreaking technology Jon Favreau and The Mandalorian crew paved the way for the Disney+ series.

Is Yoda back for the Obi-Wan Kenobi series? Hey, we’ll see! The Disney+ show is among a vast lineup of upcoming Star Wars projects coming soon to streaming.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.