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Interview with Nick Maley (YodaJeff's Yoda Page)

Interview with Nick Maley

For those of you who don't know, Nick Maley had a vital role in the creation of the Yoda puppets for the Empire Strikes Back. These questions and answers are an exclusive to I would like to thank Mr. Maley for taking the time to answer some questions. Also, visit his site at for articles on the creation of Yoda and many other interesting articles.

YodaJeff: Do you have any information on the Episode II Yoda? Can you confirm or deny any of the rumors that we have heard? (Such as [spoiler warning]Yoda fighting - with or without lightsaber, etc.)
Maley: I hear the same rumors but I have done nothing to contact my friends.

YodaJeff: After seeing Episode I, what do you think of the new Yoda puppet that was constructed?
Maley: Not a lot... my initial comments are at the site but EVERYTHING I feared seem to come true. I did NOT design the look of Yoda... so I have no axe to grind. The remodeling was very professional BUT looked more like another creature of the same species but in tune with the dark side. The original physiognomy expertly modeled by Stuart Freeborn encompassed many emotions... wisdom, humor, disappointment etc... the new was simply aggressive and mean. Nick Dudman indicated to me that the change was driven by the emotions the character was feeling. BUT just because grandma is angry doesn't mean that she now looks like Lizzy Borden. Stuart hates the new modeling to but will probably not say so publicly. I have photos of the old and new face to face which shows lots of difference to my eyes... but most fans just love the story and will probably think I am being picky. The new yoda was green and had pointy ears and was the same proportions as Yoda... You and I are pink, with round ears and are probably similarly proportioned. That doesn't make you Nick Maley.
Modeling was different, material were different, pigments were different, weight was probably different, mechanism was different... no wonder the character, look and emotional response was different too.
I am sure Nick Dudman will feel this is an unfair criticism. It is my ONLY criticism of TPM other than that they covered most of Nick's hard work and careful creations with digital animations that made me wonder if I wasn't watching Roger Rabbit.

YodaJeff: What do you think of the computer generated Yoda that was used in the one of the final scenes in The Phantom Menace?
Maley: I think it was a test for Episode II and was no worse than the new puppet.

YodaJeff: What do you think of the rumors that Yoda will be entirely computer generated in Episode II?
Maley: I have followed nothing of the gossip for Ep II but I think they may well do that. The new puppet being made of silicone will have a longer life span than the originals and could probably be used for Ep II too

YodaJeff: As you were creating the Yoda puppet, how did you picture how Yoda would act and speak in the film?
Maley: That really wasn't my area Stuart is the creator... I was just a key contributor. The script showed the unusual sentence structure.

YodaJeff: Do you know where the design for Yoda's necklace-pendant came from? What is it made of? What is its significance?
Maley: No

YodaJeff: How would you describe what you felt after seeing Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back for the first time?
Maley: I first saw it in the screening room at EMI a day after filming... no sound of course but I knew then we had got it right... it sent a chill through me. When I first saw it with an audience and they reacted to him I was proud to have been a contributor. It is those moments we live for.

YodaJeff: Whose idea was it to add the small warts/lumps over Yoda's left eye and on his chin?
Maley: I believe it was Stuarts but he and George [Lucas] and Gary Kurtz spent a long time in discussions I didn't hear.

YodaJeff: Is there any unique, obscure, or humorous fact about Yoda that the general fandom may not know that you would be willing to share with us?
Maley: Did you read the story about us nailing David to the floor? I think you did.

YodaJeff: Finally, do you wish that you still had a part in creating Yoda?
Maley: There were times when CineSecrets was getting 500,000 hits a week and YES I felt I should perhaps have made more effort to be involved but I have a business here that needs me and employees who need to feed their kids and I always thought that Nick Dudman was an excellent choice to head that team.
I live in paradise. I'm the Commodore of a local yacht club. I am happy and healthy. What more can I ask for?

[End Interview]


Nick Maley's Cine-secrets

For an insider's view on the creation of Yoda.
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