One of the upcoming film’s most discussed mysteries leading into this week (the weekend of the film’s release), has been what character that Lupita Nyong’o plays, and also how she landed the role.
Of course we all now that her character is computer generated – a pirate named Maz Kanata, who apparently owns a castle where “galactic travelers, smugglers, and other assorted riffraff” gather. Although, beyond that, the character is still a relative mystery, in terms of what her specific storyline is, her motivations, where her loyalties lie, her overall contributions to the main narrative, etc. We’ll find out soon enough, because “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opens in this Friday nationwide.
Some of us have already seen it however, but we won’t spoil it for you.
Although, last month, director J. J. Abrams and Nyong’o shared some new bits and pieces on the alien pirate Kanata, in an Entertainment Weekly article. First, we learned what Maz Kanata looks like in the movie (photo above); second, Abrams went revealed some of Kanata’s backstory: “Her history is that she was a pirate for a long time. She’s lived over a thousand years. She’s had this watering hole for about a century, and it’s like another bar that you’d find in a corner of the Star Wars universe.”
Her backstory will actually not be revealed in the movie, as Abrams noted, stating that “it will be forthcoming… In the movie, you don’t learn these things, but I know that these are things that are coming out in other venues.” Which could mean a few things: like maybe Maz Kanata comic books, games, or even an animated or live-action series made for TV or the web… I suppose if the character ends up being very popular with fans, the options could be plenty.
“I wanted to do the creature as a puppet originally,” Abrams said, “But once we figured out the things that she was required to do, it felt like [performance capture] was the way to go… Maz needed to look and feel and be just like one of those creatures. And given her mobility, and given the role that she played, it became clear that that was one creature where we should use the tool of CG… But the performance was all Lupita. She was there on set, and we did capture sessions afterwards as well, and I can’t say enough about working with her.”
Nyong’o was apparently coached on performance-capture by the king of craft himself, Andy Serkis (Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings,” Caesar in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), who also plays a character in “Force Awakens.”
“The biggest advice he gave me that’s so important to hold on to, is a motion-capture character you develop the same way as any other,” Lupita said. “You have to understand who the character is and what makes them who they are.”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opens December 18 in North America. Ticket pre-sales have been incredibly strong, according to reports, for what could very well be a record-setting opening weekend box office take.
Lupita appeared on “Ellen” yesterday, and, maybe for the first time, spoke publicly about how she landed the role (at least, this is the first time I’m hearing this; maybe you already are aware. In the clip below, what I found most interesting is that she didn’t know what she was auditioning for. She didn’t know it was for “Star Wars.” All she knew was that it was a J.J. Abrams movie: