Frank Oz (born Frank Richard Oznowicz; May 25, 1944) is an American film director, actor, voice actor and former puppeteer born in Hereford, England. Next to Jim Henson, Oz is considered one of the greatest puppeteers in modern history, and was instrumental in the development of Henson's Muppets, especially when it came to their comedic style.
After moving to America with his family as a child, he grew up surrounded by puppetry. His parents were both puppeteers (his father Mike Oznowicz even served a term as the president of Puppeteers of America), and he performed in puppet shows as a teen at the Children's Fairyland amusement park in Oakland. After befriending Jim Henson he became one of the original Muppet Performers in 1963 and is still technically involved with the organization (though he retired from regular performing in 2001).
- He played Yoda in the Star Wars films, puppeteering him in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace note and voicing him in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. He also had a vocal cameo in The Force Awakens. He reprised the role in The Last Jedi, in which Yoda is a puppet again, and had another voice cameo in The Rise of Skywalker.
- He's had small roles in a bunch of John Landis movies. In The Blues Brothers, he's the prison guard in charge of the prisoner's personal effects; in Blues Brothers 2000 he plays a prison warden who is presumably the same character. He's a representative from the US Embassy in An American Werewolf in London, a corrupt cop in Trading Places, a test monitor in Spies Like Us, and a pathologist in Innocent Blood. Landis in turn plays a theatrical producer in The Muppets Take Manhattan.
- He's the lawyer of a Big, Screwed-Up Family fighting over their patriarch's heritage in Rian Johnson's Knives Out.
- He co-directed The Dark Crystal along with Jim Henson and performed two characters, Aughra and the Chamberlain (he didn't voice either of them, however).
- He performed the Wiseman in Labyrinth, although again, he didn't voice him.
- Films he directed, in chronological order:
- The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
- Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
- Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
- What About Bob? (1991)
- Housesitter (1992)
- The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)
- In & Out (1997)
- Bowfinger (1999)
- The Score (2001)
- The 2004 adaptation of The Stepford Wives
- Death at a Funeral (2007)
- Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched (2017)
- In and Of Itself, a one-man show by performance artist Derek DelGaudio.
- He performed Grover, Bert, Cookie Monster and many other characters on Sesame Street from 1969 until 2001, when he stopped being a full-time performer so he could focus on his directing career. Bert and Grover are now performed by Eric Jacobson, and Cookie Monster is performed by David Rudman. Until about 2012, he would return to perform them in some miscellaneous sketches.
- He originated the roles of Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle and Marvin Suggs on The Muppet Show, and performed them in numerous other Muppet productions until 2000, when he left to focus on his career as a director. His characters are now played by Eric Jacobson.
- He reprised his role as Yoda in Star Wars Rebels. He also did Yoda's voice for Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge.
Frank Oz and his works provide examples of:
- Cross-Dressing Voices: As Miss Piggy, plus some one-off female voices on Sesame Street.
- Large Ham: He tends to ham up the performance of many of his Muppet characters, and not just Miss Piggy, but Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle, Bert, Grover and Cookie Monster all have had many hammy moments.
- Playing with Character Type: Oz usually played goofy, silly-looking creatures. Yoda is a goofy, silly-looking character who is actually very wise and powerful beneath his facade. By the prequels, Yoda's veneer of goofiness is gone and it reaches Playing Against Type as Yoda is almost entirely serious.
- Those Two Guys: Arguably, with Jim Henson. Whether it was as Ernie and Bert, Kermit and Miss Piggy, or Kermit and Fozzie, Henson and Oz provided the Muppet legacy with some of their all-time funniest moments.
- What Could Have Been: Frank Oz was at one point planning to direct an adaptation of the musical Dreamgirls, but this never happened.
- "The Force is strong.""Wocka Wocka!"