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Star Wars’ Frank Oz Explains How He Found Yoda’s Signature Way Of Speaking

Yoda in Empire Strikes Back

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Star Wars is one of the most iconic film franchises of all time, and it’s certainly showing no signs of slowing down. George Lucas changed the film world forever with his original trilogy, including the fan favorite chapter Empire Strikes Back. That beloved sequel featured the debut of Frank Oz’s Yoda, and the legendary puppeteer recently explained how he found the Jedi Master’s signature way of speaking.

Aside from his tiny physical presence and strength with The Force, Yoda is known for the unique way he communicates. Specifically, reversing the order of his sentences. Frank Oz recently spoke to his collaboration with George Lucas, and how that resulted in the green guy’s signature dialogue. As he put it,

It’s funny you ask about that because I was just looking at the original script of The Empire Strikes Back the other day and there was a bit of that odd syntax in it, but also it had Yoda speaking very colloquially. So I said to George [Lucas]: ‘Can I do the whole thing like this?’ And he said: ‘Sure!’ It just felt so right.

Yoda plays an interesting presence in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. While he first appears to be a senile creature on Dagobah, it soon becomes clear that he’s extremely wise and powerful. This mystery builds partly because of the strange way he speaks throughout the course of that first sequel.

Frank Oz’s comments to The Guardian come from a larger conversation about the 77 year-old icon’s long and successful career. Yoda is certainly part of this legacy, and it’s thrilling to learn about how the beloved character came to life. Especially as Oz has continued to reprise his role in the decades since.

The Skywalker Saga is currently available on Disney+. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.

Given his years on the big and small screens, it’s hard to imagine Yoda speaking without his signature reversing. While it was quirky originally in Empire Strikes Back, this way of approaching dialogue was used for more dramatic purposes in the prequel trilogy. Yoda sensed something bad was coming, with his way of speaking gripping the audience. And Frank Oz voiced the Jedi Master to pitch perfection.

Frank Oz recently mentioned that he’s no longer working on Sesame Street or The Muppets, reportedly at the insistence of Disney. But Oz has continued to return to Yoda throughout the years, most recently having a small but significant role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We’ll just have to wait and see if the iconic Jedi returns once more now that the Skywalker Saga is in the rear view.

The Star Wars franchise will continue to grow thanks to shows on Disney+ and Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron movie. In the meantime, check out the 2021 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.

Corey Chichizola

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.