The second Baby Yoda popped up on-screen, the masses instantly feel in love. The adorable character The Mandalorian officially calls The Child has become a mainstay in pop culture, from memes countless Star Wars fans have produced to apparel companies and merchandisers from around the world pumping out whatever products they can manage. For the most part, everyone thinks the little guy is one of the cutest things ever — most everyone, that is, except The Mandalorian star and documentarian Werner Herzog. In a new profile from the New York Times, Herzog reveals he doesn't think Baby Yoda is "cute" per se; but rather, a terrifying reminder of what to come from the world of robotics. That's quite the heel turn, no?
"No, not cute. It was a phenomenal achievement of sculpting mechanically. When I saw this, it was so convincing, it was so unique," Herzog tells the Times. "And then the producers talked about, 'Shouldn’t we have a fallback version with green screen and have it be completely digitally created?' I said to them: It would be cowardly. You are the trailblazers. Show the world what you can do."
Why heartbreaking? Herzog says the revolutionary animatronics involved in the production of the Baby Yoda puppet carries heavy Black Mirror vibes as the world continues its descent into boundary-pushing technology. "Not cute. It’s heartbreaking," the actors adds. "My wife has seen companion robots that are being created: a fluffy creature with big eyes talking to you, reading your facial expressions, putting its head to the side and asking you, “Oh, you don’t trust me?” There’s big stuff coming at us in terms of robotics."
For the most part, any time Baby Yoda was on-screen, it was of the practical animatronic puppet Herzog calls "heartbreaking." According to comedian Adam Pally, one of the Imperial Scout troopers that punch the baby in the season finale, the puppet cost upwards of $5 million.
“I remember the first take that I did when I punched it…,” Pally said at the TCA Winter Press Tour event. “They called ‘cut’ and Jon, who was watching on a monitor in his office, came down and said, ‘I just want to let you know that this is the hero [expensive puppet] and it costs, like, $5 million. I want you to hit it, but I want you to know that.'”
The first season of The Mandalorian is now streaming on Disney+.