Actress Lupita Nyong’o has had an amazing career in the business over the last few years. In 2014, the actress won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave. And since then, she’s starred in other big movies like Black Panther, Jordan Peele’s Us and (of course) the sequel trilogy movies of Star Wars.
While Nyong’o did not have as big a role as the main three actors, Maz Kanata was still an integral part of the story. And with that, the actress had many stories to share about her time on set. So, here are five little-known facts about the actress in Star Wars
5 facts about Lupita Nyong’o
1. She didn’t know she auditioned for Star Wars
Most times, an actor will have a general idea about what movie they’re auditioning for and/or what role they want. But when it came to Nyong’o, she says she virtually had no clue. Speaking on The Ellen Show, she told the host: “I didn’t really know what I was auditioning for. I knew I was doing it for J.J. [Abrams], but I was so busy… I was working with adrenaline. So I went in and out. I barely remember that audition.”
She said for the audition, she ended up reading a completely unrelated script. Then, two months later, she got a call back saying Abrams would like to offer her a role — and of course she accepted.
2. She did the motion capture for Maz in The Force Awakens
For the character of Maz Kanata, Lupita Nyong’o not only did the voice-over for the character, but she also did the motion capture work as well. Speaking to IGN, she said she studied some past actors who did mo-cap like Andy Serkis and Benedict Cumberbatch, and she enjoyed the experience of getting to do that. (Even if the little plastic bubbles on her face caused a disturbance if she wanted to eat lunch, as she revealed on Ellen in the interview mentioned earlier!)
3. But she didn’t do the motion capture by Episode IX
Despite doing the motion capture for the character in the past, she revealed to Trevor Noah on The Daily Show that that wasn’t the case in the final installment of the Skywalker saga. For The Rise of Skywalker, she told the host, “This time, I just did her voice, and they had an animatronic do the role.” There was no dressing up necessary to get into character. All she had to do was walk into the booth, and she was ready to go!
4. Her take-home souvenir from the set is a little underwhelming
Lots of times, we hear that actors take some exciting props home when they’re done filming a movie. And in many cases, those souvenirs end up being prop weapons, such as lightsabers. But since Nyong’o had a CGI character and didn’t need much prop work, she revealed to Variety that her take-home gift was… a pair of black socks she wore during her mo-cap session!
5. She would watch Star Wars during holidays in Kenya
Many actors in the Star Wars universe have revealed that they were Star Wars fans before joining the movies. For Nyong’o, that’s partially true. The actress said she had watched the films in her home country of Kenya (she grew up in both Kenya and Mexico). And, as she said in her Daily Show interview: “It’d just come on on public holidays. So it was a ‘public holiday’ movie.”
Noah joked that Star Wars was an odd choice for TV channels to play during holidays. But for Nyong’o, it was part of what she watched growing up — though she never knew just how big the franchise was in pop culture until she got cast in the franchise.
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