Lupita N'Yongo as Maz Kanata in Star Wars

J.J. Abrams on Maz Kanata in Star Wars Episode 7

Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata is probably the character that we know is going to appear in Star Wars Episode 7, who is new, and who we’ve still seen the least of. We have heard her voice over and have seen peripheral and static images in the trailers and posters, though.

“I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people. I see your eyes. I know your eyes.”

Who Maz Kanata is addressing and what the significance of eyes will be aren’t clear yet, but director J.J. Abrams says they will be important. “I had some specific ideas about how she would work and what she would do,” Abrams says. “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.”

N’yongo herself also says that Maz’s eyes were a crucial part of her performance of the character. “As an actor for films, your eyes are a lot of the way you communicate anyway,” says Nyong’o. “So it was definitely a gift to have that be the means to her magic as a motion-capture character.”

While Abrams says that Maz’s origin and backstory won’t be fully fleshed out in The Force Awakens specifically, he did provide a few details. “Her history is that she was a pirate for a long time,” he says. “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.”

It’s become common knowledge that Maz Kanata will run an eclectic cantina of aliens brought to life by puppeteer work, although Maz herself will be brought to life by CGI and Nyong’o’s mo-cap performance. “I wanted to do the creature as a puppet originally, but once we figured out the things that she was required to do, it felt like [performance capture] was the way to go,” Abrams said, “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.”

Maz Kanata will surely be an interesting new addition to the memorable cast of characters that inhabit the galaxy far, far away. Star Wars Episode 7 arrives in theaters December 18th.

Source: EW

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