Who Is Maz Kanata ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Character Played By Lupita Nyong’o?

Who is Maz Kanata, the Star Wars: The Force Awakens character played by Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)? Director J.J. Abrams and the Oscar-winning actress share new details about the much-anticipated blockbuster.

In the latest Entertainment Weekly issue, fans get treated to new photos and plot details, or at least character details, from Abrams himself. After the last Star Wars: The Force Awakens TV spot release, fans speculated that Maz Kanata is the one saying, “I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people… I see your eyes… I know your eyes.”

Fans also guessed Maz Kanata appears in the middle of the official Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster recently released. Abrams confirms, it is indeed Lupita Nyong’o saying the words, but who is Maz Kanata and do we actually know anything about her, other than she will appear in motion picture? Abrams told Anthony Breznican the Star Wars character’s eyes are meaningful and powerful.

“I had some specific ideas about how she would work and what she would do. I had this pitch about these goggles that she wore. Her eyes are an important aspect of her character, and you’ll see how it plays out.”

Nyong’o also talked about the significance of Maz Kanata, while not sharing many details about The Force Awakens’ plot.

“As an actor for films, your eyes are a lot of the way you communicate anyway. So it was definitely a gift to have that be the means to her magic as a motion-capture character.”

Abrams is known for keeping his script very well protected, and has done a masterful job of just releasing exactly what the is willing to share about the Star Wars: The Force Awakens plot, but shared a little more about who Maz Kanata is and what’s her significance.

“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.

“All that backstory 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.”

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy recently said that the Star Wars sequel will focus on the Skywalker family saga, while the Anthology and other standalone films will explore the new Expanded Universe characters introduced in The Force Awakens.

In The Force Awakens, Maz Kanata is similar to what Yoda was in the Star Wars original trilogy, according to what Abrams says. She needed to look, feel, and be just like one of those creatures Lucas created.

“… 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.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens cast members
Lupita Nyong’o, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac [Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images]
Motion Capture is a way to digitally record human movements. The recorded motion capture data is mapped on a digital model in 3D software so the digital character moves like the actor who was recorded. Andy Serkis — who is also cast in The Force Awakens as Supreme Leader Snoke — has made motion capture famous with his portrayal of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, as well as Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug, the Dragon in The Hobbit trilogy.

Even though Nyong’o and Serkis don’t have any scenes together in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, they worked on the technology behind the scenes, according to the report. Lupita says Serkis gave her some excellent advice about owning the character.

As far as who is Kaz Manata, we don’t know much more than we did before and will have to wait until Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes to theaters next December 18.

[Image via Lucasfilm]

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