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Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams explains why Baby Yoda is at "the very heart of what Star Wars is"

Baby Yoda
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Everyone’s got an opinion on Baby Yoda. You, me, and even Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams, who has recently had his say on The Mandalorian’s little green child. His opinion? “It’s not just cute” – Baby Yoda does a whole lot more than that.

“I think that the fun of telling stories in this galaxy is that you get to take things that are familiar and you get to adjust them, augment them, comment on them, continue them,” Abrams said to Esquire when asked about Baby Yoda.

For Abrams, it’s the chance to explore the fringes of a galaxy far, far away and couple it with a compelling story that is most exciting. He elaborates: “For me, Star Wars is sort of constantly expanding and sort of ever-expanding. And the ability to choose a character like Yoda and say, ‘What if we created a baby Yoda?’

“The reason these things are reasonable to people is because it’s not just nostalgia but it’s taken something that is meaningful, a story that has deep roots and potency and resonates with a human heart, a beating heart. These are the kind of things that, when they hit, when there’s something that feels like, ‘oomph,’ it’s not just cute but it implies a story. It sparks the imagination.”

Tying into Rise of Skywalker, Abrams also makes reference to how that expansion, including bringing back Lando Calrissian and the Emperor, will be present in his upcoming trilogy-ender. It’s an interesting analogue to Baby Yoda but one that, for Abrams, speaks of the limitless scope of the universe he’s played in since 2015’s The Force Awakens. As he puts it, “All these things are about the possibility, potential, and that’s the very heart of what Star Wars is.”

Abrams has also recently confirmed the Rise of Skywalker runtime, while Baby Yoda merchandise is slowly but surely making its way into stores in time for Christmas.

Want to find out when you’ll see Baby Yoda next? Here’s our complete Mandalorian release schedule.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.