Yoda Could Have Been A Trained Monkey In A Mask

By Nick Venable | 8 years ago

monkey yodaNo, that isn’t a shot from David Lynch’s long-awaited sequel, The Elephant Monkey. You’re looking at what was originally supposed to be the most sagacious being on all of Dagobah. Before Yoda became the wrinkled green puppet we all know and love in The Empire Strikes Back — and a really long time before he became a hideous CGI cretin — George Lucas didn’t think that puppetry was at the level he needed it to be to give believable life to his two-foot-tall Jedi master. And so the obvious solution was to stick a mask on a monkey and just hope like hell everything worked out okay.

I know what you’re thinking: that’s an asinine idea that could only be thought up by the guy who created Jar Jar Binks. But it was a trained monkey, people! Not necessarily trained to hang out in swamps and teach people how to use the Force, but he probably knew how to run around and climb shit. But thanks to a crew member who worked on the primate opening act of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, they realized pretty quickly that the monkey would probably just keep ripping the mask off.

And so Lucas ended up doing what everyone should do when they have a problem concerning a puppet: he called Jim Henson to come in and revolutionize the industry by building the first animatronic puppet. It leads me to wonder, what if Gonzo is also from Dagobah? Here’s another shot of the monkey in a dazzling costume, just ready to tell someone, “There is no try.” That, or he’s all coked up from hanging out with Carrie Fisher.

yoda monkey

The pictures come to us from Twitter user Will McCrabb, who had a few more rarely seen Star Wars images to deliver for “McQuarrie Mondays,” in honor of artist and designer Ralph McQuarrie. In the image below, you’ll see a piece of an unshot sequence where Luke gets attacked by some kind of a mutant mosquito in Degobah.

empire drawings

And here’s one of Luke just hanging out with a rather demonic-looking Yoda, in front of his humble, erect-nippled abode.

empire drawings

And because no good story is complete without a Weird Al live performance, here’s “Yoda.”