The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger admits he was chastised by The Mandalorian series creator Jon Favreau early on in development on the live-action Star Wars series when he referred to the series’ breakout character as “Baby Yoda.” The character, officially designated as “The Child” or “The Asset” by Disney and Lucasfilm until the 50-year-old baby character’s real name is revealed, was nicknamed “Baby Yoda” for his resemblance to centuries-old Jedi Master Yoda, whose species name has never been determined in Star Wars lore — but Iger says the colloquial nickname is a “no-no.”
“I think it’s exceeded our expectations, all of our expectations. But I knew, the moment I saw an early cut of the first episode, that we had something really special. And I just felt it,” Iger said during a recent appearance on The Star Wars Show. “I’ve been in the business for 45 years, worked my way up through television mostly, [and I] remember times throughout my career in television when I saw either a character or an actor playing a character when you just knew.”
While Iger immediately identified the foundling as a future fan-favorite, he just as quickly realized the “Baby Yoda” nickname was off limits in any official capacity.
“In this particular case, The Child, or The Asset — because we don’t refer to The Child or The Asset the way the world is referring to The Child and The Asset as ‘Baby Yoda’ — that’s a no-no,” Iger said. “I got chastised, in my early emails to Jon Favreau, I referenced in my emails, ‘Baby Yoda.’ It just seemed easy. And I got my wrists slapped by Jon a few times. ‘It’s not Baby Yoda!’ ‘Okay, okay!’ [Laughs].”
A viral sensation in part because of his widely agreed upon cuteness, The Child “doesn’t have to say anything, it just emotes, it just looks,” Iger said. “Moves the ears, the eyes, and so darn intriguing. I think people really want to know, ‘What’s its name? What’s its real name?’ I know its real name, and it’s one of the reasons why I have extra security now, because I don’t want to be given some kind of truth serum by someone.”
Iger had high praise for the series that on Friday premiered its Season 1 finale, saying Disney was easily sold on Favreau's pitch for The Mandalorian because the Iron Man and Lion King filmmaker is similar in many ways to Star Wars creator George Lucas.
“When Jon pitched the idea of a Star Wars series, we immediately understood not only did we have a great storyteller, but we had a storyteller that was going to continue to write new rules of sorts or mine new territory in terms of how he was going to use technology to tell great stories that felt fresh, that felt important, that felt big, that took people to new places and created new experiences,” Iger said. “And so it was a very easy decision for us to make.”
All episodes of The Mandalorian Season 1 are now streaming on Disney+. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.2comments
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