11/03/2005: Life as Yoda...
Oz wasn't just the voice of Yoda but one of the on-set puppeteers who manipulated Stuart Freeborn's design; in other words, Oz contributed to Yoda's "performance" in front of the camera as well as on the soundtrack.
"Ninety-nine percent of the people think that I just did the voice," Oz said. "They don't grasp that the hard part, the really, really hard part, was the actual performance of the puppet."
Oz first gained fame as an associate of master Muppet creator Jim Henson. Working on "Sesame Street" and "The Muppet Show," Oz gave voice and helped "perform" Miss Piggy, Grover, Cookie Monster, Sam the Eagle and other beloved characters. He also worked as a writer and director on various Henson Productions, moving to live-action directing for such films as "Little Shop of Horrors" (1986), "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988) and, most recently, the remake of "The Stepford Wives."
Talking to Oz was a bit of a surprise because he didn't sound like Yoda or Bert or Fozzie Bear or any other characters who -- despite their vocal differences -- are all distinctively, recognizably Oz-ian. His voice was soft and almost anonymous.
Nevertheless, "I think of them all as parts of me, and parts of everybody," Oz said of his many characters. "If they weren't part of everyone, people wouldn't be touched by them. You can't do characters if you don't love them."
Asked if he could mimic the twisted syntax of Yoda's speech at a moment's notice, the way so many "Star Wars" cultists can, Oz said: "I have the ability, but I never do it. That's just a party trick, something for a trained monkey. His character is quite layered, quite deep, and I don't want to treat him as a party trick."
-- Frank Oz Talks about Life as Yoda.
Karen on 11.03.05 @ 07:24 AM CST