Dave Filoni, one of the creators/executive producers of “The Mandalorian” shared his initial reaction to co-creator/EP Jon Favreau’s pitch of introducing a “Baby Yoda” type character:
“I was probably one of the first people to hear that pitch. Jon said, ‘I want to make a character that’s like a Baby Yoda.’ I thought, ‘Where are we going with this? If we’re doing that, I want to help, because Yoda is such an important character to George [Lucas]. I want to help make sure it’s going to come across as well as it can.'”
Favreau explained his thought process: Just because Grogu resembled familiar characters from the franchise’s past doesn’t mean he had to share an immediate connection with them. “We knew it wasn’t Yoda — anybody who knows the timeframe [“The Mandalorian” is set after “Return of the Jedi”] knows that it can’t be him,” Favreau said. “Is it a clone? There’s a lot of cloning going on. But he’s his own person, with his own history.”
From there, Filoni and Favreau started cooking with their creative teams and worked on the child’s character design. Grogu would soon graduate from a little concept to a key element of the entire story. Rick Famuyiwa (a director/writer on previous seasons now serving as an EP on season 3) was shown the concept art as early as possible. “Jon and Dave showed me the first sketch that inspired it — that last image [in ‘Chapter 1’] of Mando and the baby as he’s in his pram, and he reaches down into it,” said Famuyiwa.
It’s within this piece of concept art where Favreau found the beating heart of his “Star Wars’ series, and soon birthed a puppet with a $5 million budget.