Ewan McGregor Admits Prequel Yoda Didn’t Work

in Star Wars

obi-wan kenobi with lightsaber

Credit: Lucasfilm

Star Wars actor Ewan McGregor has admitted his issue with working on George Lucas’s prequel trilogy and it involves a famous character…

the phantom menace
Credit: Disney+

Every Star Wars fan seems to have an opinion on Lucas’s prequel trilogy. The director who created the franchise brought audiences back into the galaxy far, far away when Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace debuted in 1999.

The new foray into the now colloquially coined, Skywalker Saga, introduced a slew of new characters like Naboo royal Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) and the Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). The Phantom Menace also saw the return of some original trilogy characters, however in younger incarnations. Two of these were Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Jedi Master Yoda.

kenobi jinn phantom menace
Credit: Lucasfilm

Some will remember the original iteration of Yoda in The Phantom Menance — the head of the Jedi Council was a puppet, much like how he featured in the original trilogy. Later on, Lucasfilm would remove the Yoda puppet in favor of a CGI version. We saw from the events of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), why that was a much-needed choice. We can’t imagine a puppet doing very well against Count Dooku or Emperor Palpatine in a lightsaber duel.

yoda palpatine duel
Credit: Lucasfilm

Now, McGregor has shared his thoughts on that Yoda change and it seems like he was a little disappointed in Lucasfilm’s creative decision. For context, YouTuber Vincenté Fett shared the side-by-side.

yoda phantom menace
Credit: Vincenté Fett YouTube

What did Ewan McGregor say about Yoda?

In a recent discussion, via Variety’s Actors on Actors series, with Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian‘s Din Djarin) McGregor revealed his woes about a certain aspect of working on George Lucas’s Star Wars prequel trilogy. In conversation with Pascal — who also shared this update about Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian season 3 –, McGregor talks about a certain fan-favorite character, Yoda, and how his experience of working with the Jedi Master changed over the course of the prequel Star Wars saga.

qui-gon jinn and obi-wan kenobi fighting darth maul with lightsabers
Credit: Lucasfilm

The actor said:

“The first film I did, I was lucky to do my scenes with the Yoda puppet. And it was extraordinary, because I acted with him. 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 McGregor shared an interesting thought:

“Then every time George called cut, Yoda would die, because everyone just stops. It was sort of disturbing every time the end of the scene would come along.”

obi-wan and yoda
Credit: Lucasfilm

The Star Wars actor went into detail about how his relationship changed with Yoda following his puppet demise and reincarnation as the CGI version we know today:

Then they replaced him for our second film and our third film with the digital version of him, and it’s not nearly as endearing. Also, we know Yoda as a puppet. We know him from the original movies as a puppet. So when it was suddenly computer generated, it didn’t feel like Yoda to me anymore.

yoda on dagobah
Credit: Lucasfilm

It’s an interesting analogy that McGregor provides and you can see how it would affect the experience of working on a Star Wars movie. Growing up seeing the iconic Yoda train Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), it would be any fan’s dream to act alongside the supreme Jedi leader. But, it would be difficult to achieve the significant lightsaber action that Yoda partakes in using a puppet model.

yoda on luke's back
Credit: Lucasfilm

Yoda’s puppet sacrifice seemingly paved the way for Lucasfilm’s growing use of CGI in its prequels and the recent sequel trilogy — although, time and technology have only improved the technique, did you see Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian? Mark Hamill came back without actually coming back!

Yoda (kind of) also came back more recently in the form of The Child (AKA “Baby Yoda”) in The Mandalorian. Grogu, as his name was revealed by Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka Tano, became a cultural phenomenon ever since his arrival into the Star Wars canon. Even Pedro Pascal can’t get over what it’s like to work with the franchise’s cutest character. Speaking to Variety also, the actor said:

grogu
Credit: Lucasfilm

“Yeah, there’s this incredible puppet with fuzzy hair on the ears, and it moves remotely.”

He added:

“It was a really good scene partner.”

Fans will likely be hoping that Grogu will show up in the Star Wars universe once more, that’s for sure.

grogu touching din's face
Credit: Lucasfilm

What’s next for Ewan McGregor and Obi-Wan Kenobi?

At the end of last year, Lucasfilm announced its new Disney+ shows including Deborah Chow’s, Obi-Wan Kenobi. McGregor is reprising his role as the Jedi Knight, and Hayden Christensen is back as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. The series takes place in the aftermath of Revenge of the Sith and Anakin’s disgraceful fall to the dark side of the Force.

Which version of Yoda do you prefer?

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