Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata) Talks Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Academy Award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o talks about keeping the secrets of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and her role as Maz Kanata.

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When Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 17, you won’t recognize Academy Award winning actress, Lupita Nyong’o. The reason for this is because she is portraying a motion-capture character by the name of Maz Kanata. Not much is known about Maz, in fact there has only been one shot of the mysterious character in one the many television ads for The Force Awakens. The secrecy surrounding Maz Kanata and other characters in the film can be attributed to the tight-lid approach that J.J. Abrams is well known for…and the actors willing to help keep that light nice and tight.

Lupita sat down with Refinery 29 to discuss what it’s like keeping these secrets, and other neat bits from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Regarding those secrets:

"“My mother wants to know [the plot]. I haven’t even told my mother. I haven’t told anyone. I enjoy keeping a secret, so I’m thriving on this. I’m thriving! I love it. It’s not hard at all.”"

I can’t imagine trying to keep a secret of this magnitude from the closest ones in my life…but I guess that’s what an airtight NDA is for. Lupita goes on to talk about following in the footsteps of some of the actors who have done superb mocap acting:

"“Motion-capture is something that I’ve had my eye on ever since seeing Andy Serkis in Lord of the Rings, and then going on to see Zoe Saldana do it, and Benedict Cumberbatch, and folks like that. It looked like an opportunity to really play as an actor, because you’re not limited by your physical circumstances. And after playing Patsey in 12 Years a Slave, which was so much about the body, here was an opportunity where I was completely relieved of that. And I liked it.”"

Nyong’o has the great honor to learn from the master of motion capture — Andy Serkis — and that’s as valuable an experience as any she could probably ask for. Lupita also talked about growing up with Star Wars.

"“I grew up watching Star Wars, yes. Star Wars would come on TV on public holidays when I was at school, so I related to it as being time off from school, and we only had two channels of TV growing up so everyone watched it. Everybody knew about the galaxy far, far away.”"

It’s nice to know that an actress playing an integral part in the newest Star Wars film, actually knows her source material. Often times, an actor will try and make the role his or her own, but in the cinematic world of Star Wars, these characters and stories are so ingrained into people’s lives, that to try and reimagine a role — previously seen or not — would upset an extremely precarious balance. Do that, and The Force Awakens could end up like the Prequel Trilogy.

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However, it seems like Lupita and her fellow actors in Star Wars: The Force Awakens are taking this extremely important challenge reverently serious…and that’s a good thing. You can read Refinery 29‘s entire interview with Lupita Nyong’o by clicking the link provided. Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters worldwide in just eight days, on December 17 and 18.