We, and the Force, are totally with Werner Herzog on this one.
The Mandalorian is a big deal for Star Wars fans.
The first live-action TV show set in that galaxy far, far away, the Disney+ series combines the scale and spectacle audiences love on the big screen with a story more suited for the small one. Fans also appreciate the series' approach to practical effects work -- a lost art in modern Hollywood filmmaking.
They also love it for Baby Yoda. Because obvious.
But no one loves the little guy and his on-set puppet more than Werner Herzog.
Baby Yoda, also known as "The Child," is a very convincing and sophisticated live-action puppet -- much like the one Frank Oz used and voiced in the original Star Wars trilogy and in The Phantom Menace. According to Vanity Fair, during a scene with the puppet, Herzog shot down writer and executive producer Jon Favreau and Dav Filoni's plans to replace it with CG.
When the director and documentarian saw Favreau and Filoni “removing the miniature creature from set during one of his scenes with the being,” he asked them why they were doing that. Favreau and Filoni wanted to shoot a blank slate for the scene, just in case they decided in post that a digital version of Baby Yoda would look more "real" that the, you know, real puppet.
Naturally, Werner "No Filter" Herzog made his disdain for that choice known.
"You are cowards. Leave it!"
One, this story is cool and scary in equal measure. Imagine getting scorned by Herzog. *Shudders.
Two, Herzog is right. Practical effects are where it is at, and who knew that the stone-cold Herzog had such care space in his heart for something so damn cute?
Filoni shared this story at the Los Angeles premiere for The Mandalorian, and it keeps getting funnier. But there's an even better story, this one from Deborah Chow -- the director of the series' third (and very entertaining) episode.
Speaking with VF, Chow -- who is also directing Disney+'s upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi show starring Ewan McGregor -- remembered "one of the weirdest moments" she's ever had while on-set with Herzog and the puppet.
“I was directing Werner with the puppet, and Werner had just fallen in love with the baby. Werner, I think, had forgotten it wasn’t actually a live creature, and started sort of… directing the baby. It’s as charming, but no less surreal."
Chow went on to say that "Werner is talking to the baby as if it was a real thing. And I’m trying to direct Werner. And I’m just like, 'How did I get here? How did my life end up like this?'”
We love that Herzog charged himself as this puppet's protector and on-set advocate. The best type of "helicopter parent."
The Mandalorian is streaming now.
What are your thoughts on the series so far? What do you like? What can work better? Sound off below.