Frank Oz has sparked speculation Yoda is to appear in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
The 72-year-old puppeteer was responsible for bringing the diminutive green alien to life in original trilogy films The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Although the Jedi Master died in Star Wars: Episode VI after being visited for a final time by Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) he does appear as a Force Ghost to the young Jedi along with Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and Luke’s father Anakin Skywalker, who came back to the Light Side of The Force from his Dark Side alter ego Darth Vader after saving his son from being killed by Emperor Palpatine.
Oz was quizzed at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival on whether he would be voicing the character again for Rian Johnson’s sequel or any other Disney Star Wars film and his cryptic answer has sent fans into meltdown that Yoda is coming back either as Force Ghost again to speak with Luke and Rey (Daisy Ridley) or in a flashback scene.
The Muppets puppeteer Oz – who is married to Victoria Labalme – said: “I feel like I’m a prisoner at war here, and I can only give you my name, rank and serial number. To be true to the people who asked me, and they are kind of my family, I have to say I’ve been asked not to talk about it. I love Yoda. I would be happy to talk to you about it at the time they let me.”
Oz’s Yoda voice did feature in The Force Awakens when Maz Kanata presents Rey with Luke’s old lost lightsaber sparking a powerful series of flashback memories which also featured the voices of Ewan McGregor and Guinness who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas’ prequels and the original trilogy respectively.
Explaining the significance of the voices, The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams said: “The idea of the voices was, we wanted the audience to feel – but not necessarily be presented right in your face – this idea that familiar, Force-strong voices were connecting with her. At least as well as they could.”
The Last Jedi will be released worldwide on December 15, 2017, and the returning cast includes John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Dohmnall Gleeson (General Hux), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke) and the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia.
While Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran are all newcomers to the sci-fi franchise.