He may be one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars universe — but he very nearly wasn't in it.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has revealed Baby Yoda — AKA Grogu AKA The Child — was almost vetoed by "The Mandalorian" Executive Producer Dave Filoni.
Describing the beginnings of the mega-hit Disney+ flagship series to Vanity Fair, Kennedy recalled how she feared a "turf war" between the encyclopedic Filoni and the equally Star Wars obsessed Jon Favreau when it turned out they were both working on very similar projects.
"I knew that Jon Favreau was always deeply interested in Star Wars. He was the first person I went to," Kennedy recalled. "He said, 'Not only would I have an interest, I have an idea.'"
Favreau's idea was a lone gunslinger story, focused on the Mandalorian warrior race; he began working on the show before he even had a contract.
"I just started writing," he told the publication. "So by the time I was officially hired, I had already written the first, I think, four episodes."
The problem was Filoni, the Lucasfilm legend behind many of the Star Wars animated shows, was also working on a Mandalorian project. Kennedy said that while the two were friendly with each other, she feared a turf war... so: "I arranged a playdate."
"They got along instantly, like gangbusters," Kennedy claimed, as they combined their ideas into a possible single project... but there was one sticking point: Favreau's idea for The Child.
"It gave us some pause," Kennedy said. "He and Dave debated that quite ferociously."
Filoni explained his reservation was trying to keep the mystery around Yoda's species intact.
"Honestly, it's something I never would've done because Yoda is Yoda," he said.
"I think people now look back and think it was like a slam dunk, but we were very cautious," he added. "The amount of measuring, especially in the first season, for how we were framing this kid took a lot of effort."
According to Favreau, they went through a lot of different looks before they finally found one that clicked — a full-color concept image by artist Chris Alzmann, the now-ubiquitous image emblazoned on countless pieces of Mando merchandise.
"That's him. This one," Favreau said. "He had kind of a goofy, ugly look. We didn't want him too cute."
According to the executive producers, there was never an alternate creature suggestion.