Yoda — that wise, little green Jedi that captured the hearts of movie fans around the world after making his big screen debut in 1980’s “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” — was almost played by an adorable monkey.
Though this not news to the dedicated community of “Star Wars” fans, but it might be to the casual viewer who did not read author J.W. Rinzler’s 2010 book, “The Making Of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” which first unveiled the monkey to the masses.
Photos of the monkey — carrying Yoda’s cane and wearing a mask — popped up on Twitter this week. The pictures served as another reminder of what could have been had George Lucas‘ talented production team not been brave enough to call out a bad idea when they saw one.
“Look, the monkey’s just going to pull off the mask over and over again. It’s never going to work,” Rinzler quotes a crew member who worked on the primate scenes in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Fortunately for cinematic history, the production chose to enlist the services of Jim Henson to create the world’s first animatronic muppet, which was voiced by Frank Oz.
Here’s a glimpse of the Yoda who never was: