[This article contains spoilers for the first episode of The Mandalorian]
Even if Disney+’s The Mandalorian wasn’t a pretty fun dose of genre-blending film-making—which, happily, it is—it might still have justified its existence with the production of new Werner Herzog interview clips alone. The show’s release has already seen the noted french fry fan open up about his complete indifference to past entries in the Star Wars universe, as well as his abiding love of WrestleMania, all in that same dour, slightly arch German tome. But lest you think Herzog is somber at all times, there are things that can move him to joy that are not leglocks, body slams, or suplexes: Things like spoiler-heavy baby alien puppets.
Everyone who’s seen the first episode of the just-launched streaming series already knows what its Macguffin is: A little baby alien who looks a whole heck of a lot like Yoda. Having never, presumably, been exposed to said old-school Frank Oz creation, Herzog apparently fell in love with his little doppel-toddler, telling Variety this week that the creature was “hearbreakingly beautiful.” (Admittedly, it does look pretty good for a 50-year-old.) But that wasn’t Herzog’s only defense of his little alien buddy: Executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni got themselves called “cowards” by the famous director because they refused to believe in Small Yoda’s powers.
This is per THR, as Favreau and Filoni explained that they weren’t fully confident that they could get away with only using animatronic shots of the character, calling for “clean shots” of its scenes so that they could potentially CGI it in later. But then:
Herzog filmed a scene with a puppet, and the filmmakers then removed it for another take. “[Herzog] goes, ‘What are you doing?’ “ recalled Filoni. Filoni told Herzog they were removing the puppet to shoot a clean plate. Only Herzog didn’t want the puppet removed. He wanted Favreau and Filoni to believe in themselves — and in the puppet. “He says, ‘You are cowards. Leave it. Leave it,’“ Filoni recounted to huge laughs from the crowd. “He was so committed.”
Added Favreau: “It was so awesome.”
Anyway, the moral of this story is that Disney really needs to get some sort of new, good Muppets show off the ground, and Werner Herzog should absolutely be its very first guest.