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Luke and Yoda
Credit: LucasFilm

‘It’s the soul’: Frank Oz recalls creating the voice of Master Yoda in Episode 5

Lately, the name “Frank Oz” has appeared in the news and in social media posts and threads.

frank oz

Credit: Disney

The veteran director, voice actor, and famous “Muppeteer” has been vocal lately about Disney’s refusal to allow Oz to work on any Muppets projects anymore because–he says–they want a new kind of Muppet brought to life, and Oz refuses to do it, saying there’s a big difference between the Jim Henson Muppets and the Disney Muppets.

Jim Henson and Muppets

Credit: Disney

But in a much lighter story, Oz recalls the first time he was tasked, dare we say privileged, with bringing Jedi Master Yoda to life.

luke skywalker yoda puppet frank oz

Credit: LucasFilm

Oz says the first time he read the script for The Empire Strikes Back (1980), he noticed that it had “a bit of that odd syntax in it.” He also says he noticed that the character of Yoda spoke very “colloquially.”

Use the Force, you must,” is just one example of the ancient and wise Jedi Master’s way of speaking.

Luke skywalker and yoda

Credit: LucasFilm

Rather than fight it or try to make something of his own from it, Frank Oz decided to embrace that colloquial speaking and strange syntax, to the point that he approached George Lucas and asked, “Can I do the whole thing like this?”

Lucas was delighted, and the true soul and character of Master Yoda were born.

It’s that “odd syntax” delivered in an almost professional tone that lent itself to giving the 900-year-old mentor an air of wisdom from the get-go, and we have Oz to thank for that.

Master Yoda

Credit: LucasFilm

The old Jedi Master first appeared in Episode 5 of the Star Wars saga, but The Empire Strikes Back would only be the beginning for him. From 1980 forward, Master Yoda has been a staple in the Star Wars universe, making appearances in Return of the Jedi (1983), The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), Revenge of the Sith (2005), The Force Awakens (2015), The Last Jedi (2017) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019), but only as a voice-over in this film.

He also has roles in 3 animated Star Wars series as well.

When asked whether he gets annoyed or frustrated when he hears fans attempting to copy Master Yoda’s iconic voice, Oz says it really doesn’t bother him.

Master Yoda Frank Oz Star Wars Empire Strikes Back

Credit: LucasFilm

“Anyone can do a voice,” he explains. “It’s not the voice; it’s the soul that’s key to a character.”

About Becky Burkett

I'm an enthusiastic writer who finds joy in random things like cold weather, snow, "I Love Lucy," "The Andy Griffith Show," journals full of blank paper, countdowns to Christmas, the month of December, "Toy Story," "Sleeping Beauty," my 4 kids, my 4 shih tsus, Disney Parks history, Imagineering and visiting the parks. I think Walt Disney is the standard against which genius should be measured. I love to write about Disney Parks, Disney history, all things Imagineering and PIXAR. I adore the colors, story and art direction of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" (Team Make it Blue!), and "Toy Story" is life (minus "Toy Story 4"). I believe Walt Disney was so much more than an entertainment and theme park tycoon; I believe he was a savant with a vision for life and how it could be if happiness and kindness are strived for. I love Biergarten at EPCOT and 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian. You can find me croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room, chillin' on the PeopleMover or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. I'm always looking for Imagineers in the parks, and I'd rather meet Joe Rohde and Tony Baxter than anyone in Hollywood! Hey, if you dream it, you really can do it!