Skip Nav

Who Does Lupita Nyong'o Play in Star Wars The Force Awakens?

You Won't Recognize Lupita Nyong'o in Star Wars Unless You Read This First

Ever since it was revealed that Star Wars: The Force Awakens would have Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o in its cast, we've been excited to see who the darling star would be playing. We got a hint when Vanity Fair unveiled a series of behind-the-scenes photos from the film, and there was Nyong'o, with those now-recognizable CG dots on her face. Then, she told us that her character would be "colorful." That all made her role more of a mystery, but we need wonder no more. In a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, director JJ Abrams spilled tons of important details about her. Even though the movie is out now, you should read up on her character, otherwise you almost certainly won't be able to spot her.

Her Name Is Maz Kanata and We Have Already Seen Her

The Force Awakens poster actually revealed Nyongo's character, Maz. "That's Maz," Abrams told EW, indicating the tiny, goggled creature. Here is the original poster, so you can see just how small she is on it.

And there is little Maz, on the top left.

She's an Alien

This being a galaxy far, far away, Maz is an alien, and Abrams gave us some of her personal history. "She was a pirate for a long time," he revealed. "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." A Star Wars bar? Like this one?

ADVERTISEMENT

She Is CG

That image of Nyong'o with the motion-capture dots was a dead giveaway that her character would be CG, and Abrams confirmed it. "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 don't worry, Abrams added, "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." For Nyong'o's part, this was her first time doing performance capture, so famed motion-capture actor Andy Serkis was brought on to give her guidance.

Her Eyes Are Important

Maz's eyes aren't just covered up with goggles as a fashion statement — they play a big part of her character. "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," Abrams said. Nyong'o added: "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." It's also implied that the line in the recent trailer — "I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people. I see your eyes. I know your eyes." — is actually Maz. Those who have seen the movie can confirm that it is indeed Maz!

Nyong'o Didn't Know She Was Auditioning For Star Wars

The actress revealed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that "I didn't really know what I was auditioning for." She recalls that her schedule was so busy after 12 Years a Slave that she just figured she should find work. "I was so busy, I was working with adrenaline so I went in and out. I barely remember that audition, and then two months later [Abrams] called me."

Related Stories:

Image Source: Disney
Latest Entertainment
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds