Director Rian Johnson relished the opportunity to bring Frank Oz back to the Star Wars movies as Yoda in The Last Jedi, and now Johnson has enlisted Oz’s services yet again for his upcoming murder mystery Knives Out. Oz will himself be appearing on screen this time, marking one of the few instances in which he’s appeared in a live-action movie as a human instead of lending his voice to a puppet (or Muppet) character.
“We had a magical night where Frank came and puppeteered the Yoda,” Johnson told us when The Last Jedi came out. “He’s down there underneath the boards with the headset on watching the monitor down there and doing his magic. And we shot the scene the way they would have back when they did Empire. It’s pretty cool.”
It sounds like the two formed a nice working relationship, because they’ve already teamed up again for Johnson’s next movie. During a South By Southwest panel, Oz explained that the director asked him to play a small two-day part in Knives Out, the Agatha Christie-influence murder mystery that stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Lakeith Stanfield, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, and Ana de Armas. Indiewire was there to grab Oz’s quotes:
“He asked me to act in it and I said, ‘Are you out of your friggin’ mind?’ But he wanted me in there. The reason I do those, and I believe every director should do this, is I need to know how frightening it is in front of a camera. And if I screw up, I can learn how to help when I direct an actor. Every director should get in front of the camera and see how frightening it is and how much the actors need you.”
Oz is a fine director in his own right, having helmed movies like The Muppets Take Manhattan, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, What About Bob?, Bowfinger, The Score, and more. Of course, he’s most well known for voicing Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and Yoda, and he’s only appeared on screen a few times in live-action projects. He must have been pals with Dan Aykroyd back in the day, because he played small roles in several of his movies: in both Blues Brothers and Trading Places, Oz played officers who dryly list the contents of perpetrators:
In Spies Like Us, where he was the proctor of an examination:
You get the point. I imagine this small role in Knives Out will be similar in scope, and I can easily picture Oz playing a cop whose sudden presence ramps up the tension for those trapped in the murder mystery scenario, or maybe even a snooty butler who gets offed in the opening scene.
At the SXSW panel, Oz also offered his thoughts about The Last Jedi as a whole:
“I love the movie. All the people who don’t like this ‘Jedi’ thing is just horse crap. It’s about expectations. The movie didn’t fill their expectations. But as filmmakers, we’re not here to fulfill people’s expectations.”
Knives Out arrives in theaters on November 27, 2019.
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