J.J. Abrams Based This The Force Awakens Character On His High School Teacher


J.J. Abrams has revealed the inspiration behind Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens…

“I see your eyes. I know your eyes.” If this line from Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens sounds a little bit like a teacher guiding a student, then there’s a good reason: The character of Maz Kanata was based on J.J. Abrams’ late High School English Teacher, Rose Gilbert. The Palisadian-Post — Abrams’ hometown newspaper — got the scoop directly from the director, himself.

"“Yes, the character of Maz was originally based on the great Rose Gilbert. We really wanted the story to feel authentic, despite being a wild fantasy. I mentioned Rose in an early story meeting as a sort of timeless, wise figure that I’d actually known in my life.”"

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According to the Post, Rose Gilbert was known to her students as “Mama G.” and taught at Palisades Charter High School for 51 years, before retiring at the age of 94. She later passed away a year later at the age of 95. When she retired, she was the oldest teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, as well as being one of the oldest teachers in the country. Production Designer for The Force Awakens — Rick Carter — was a student of Rose Gilbert’s as well.

Abrams elaborated on the design and look of Maz, saying that while they toyed with several ideas in the early designs, Rose was always the main inspiration for the wizened old character. Both Abrams and Carter tried to reach out to Mrs. Gilbert to show her Maz and how she was their inspiration, but sadly, she passed away in 2013, while The Force Awakens was in early development.

It’s stories like these that really tug at the heart-strings, and serves to remind us just how perfect J.J. Abrams was for the first film in the new Star Wars trilogy. Rose’s story of inspiration on her students, also serves as a reminder of just how important the teachers in our country’s school system are.

H/T – Palisadian-Post