Ever since the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, the Star Wars prequel trilogy has become ubiquitous with the rising dependency on CGI that was seen throughout cinema through the early 21st century.
Yoda, one of the series’ most iconic characters, went through perhaps the biggest change of all from the original films, changing from a practical puppet to a CGI figure, a move Ewan McGregor has stated as “not nearly as endearing”.
Though in the trilogy’s first film the character was, in fact, a puppet, to the joy of McGregor who commented in a recent interview with Variety, “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.”
When the fantastical ‘clone war’ kicks off from the trilogy’s second instalment, however, Yoda takes on a new role as backflipping, lightsaber-wielding dynamo shedding the skin of his old puppet persona. It was a decision Ewan McGregor found difficult to support, noting, “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”.
The actor has always been public about his dismay for George Lucas’ prequel trilogy, and particularly the films’ reliance on CGI, stating, “He [George Lucas] wanted more and more control over what we see in the background…after three or four months of that, it just gets really tedious – especially when the scenes are… I don’t want to be rude, but it’s not Shakespeare.”
Due to reprise his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney + in his own standalone series next year, the actor feels as though his solo series will feel “so much more real” than the prequel trilogy. Hayden Christensen is also due to reprise his role as Darth Vader for the mini-series.