The most surprising piece of trivia to come from this episode of Breaking Down the Duels is that Yoda’s big fight scene was completely unplanned, according to stunt coordinator Nick Gillard.
“We [originally] had a very different fight and Yoda wasn’t in it. And on the day we got there [on set], George decided that Yoda should be in it,” Gillard recalled, before adding with a laugh, “I remember saying to him, ‘Let me just get this right. We pan down and there’s a three foot frog?’”
“So we have a little maquette of Yoda, and we placed him various places around the stage. And then we did our version of that fight to those points,” Gillard described of the process.
Once the fight sequence was figured out, it was on the visual effects team to bring Yoda to life.
“I think a lot of the credit for making that scene work and for Yoda not to feel silly goes to Rob Coleman, who was the animation supervisor, and figuring out ways to animate Yoda that still kept him very energetic and try to make it plausible that this very small creature could fight someone three times his height,” visual effects supervisor John Knoll explained.
Though Gillard was a tad skeptical that it would work out, the moment where Yoda opens his coat, summons a tiny green lightsaber to his hand, and leaps into battle against Dooku has become a fan-favorite scene of the franchise.
“It’s George’s movie and you have to move with it straight away. Sometimes he says things and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, he’s lost the plot.’ And then you see afterwards, and he was, of course, absolutely right,” Gillard said.”
“Christopher Lee is a fantastic swordsman and did the vast majority of the fight in the Attack of the Clones,” Gillard shared.
Dooku may have been at a numbers disadvantage at the start of the duel, but he was able to use his experience to best Obi-Wan and Anakin.
“Dooku has got those decades of experience over the young, brash Jedi that sort of will make more mistakes. So he tended to work with more of an economy of movement,” Knoll said.
After Obi-Wan goes down, Anakin must battle Dooku alone. Gillard said that “Dooku is not a better sword fighter than him at that point, but mentally, upstairs he’s got it.” Which is how Dooku was able to come out on top against Anakin despite him wielding two lightsabers against him.
Before Yoda and Dooku have their big lightsaber clash, they face off with Force powers, which was also not originally planned.
“I made an argument to George, Yoda and Dooku, who are masters, they’re beyond masters, they’ve long graduated from having to literally wield lightsabers against each other. This could be more of a battle of the wizards,” Knoll said. “I pulled some reference clips, a lot of them were from Akira, that I thought was pretty neat and a nice visualization of those kinds of telekinetic abilities. And in the end [George] said, ‘Well, maybe we’ll do some of that. But hey, come on. People have been wanting to see lightsaber wielding Yoda for years, and I’m going to give it to them.’””