After shooting in Croatia and Ireland, Star Wars: Episode VIII is back in the studio, where director Rian Johnson is continuing production on this hugely anticipated sequel to last December's blockbuster smash Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He has shared a new photo as motion-capture work is done. And we're treated to the first look at a popular returning character.

In this latest image, we see Lupita Nyong'o from the back in her mo-cap suit. On the monitors, we get to see her now iconic character of Maz Kanata. We're not sure what is going on in this scene. But one thing's for certain, the force sensitive, diminutive creature will be getting a close-up.

Maz Kanata is a female smuggler who lived for over one thousand years. Although she is Force-sensitive, she has never trained as a Jedi. Maz Kanata views history as a struggle against the dark side, which she believes has had many forms, such as the Sith, the Galactic Empire and now the First Order. Around thirty years after the Battle of Endor, she took over a castle that once played host to travelers, smugglers, and others. But it was destroyed by the First Order in a raid to capture the droid BB-8 and the two individuals assisting its return to the Resistance base.

It was only after the death of Emperor Palpatine that Kanata felt comfortable openly acknowledging that she was Force-sensitive, and she started using her strong connection to the Force to track down artifacts like Anakin and Luke Skywalker's lightsaber. It is unknown where she now resided after the destruction of her castle at the hands of the First Order. It has been rumored that Maz will be getting a new dive bar, host to the galaxy's most unscrupulous pirates, in Star Wars: Episode VIII.

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rey took her first steps into a larger world. Star Wars: Episode VIII will continue her epic journey with Finn, Poe, and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the continuing saga. This latest sequel began principal photography at Pinewood Studios in London on February 15, 2016.

Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is written and directed by Rian Johnson and continues the storylines introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, welcomes back cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis. New cast members will include Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, Academy Award nominee Laura Dern, and talented newcomer Kelly Marie Tran. Here's your first look at the return of Maz Kanata.

Maz Kanata Star Wars Episode VIII
B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange