Among the many mysterious characters that have yet to be revealed in any of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens footage released so far, two of them have only been heard, and not seen. Andy Serkis' Supreme Leader Snoke provided the sinister narration of the first teaser released last November, and the final trailer revealed the voice of Maz Kanata, performed by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o. Early concept artwork surfaced in May that supposedly gave us our first look at this mysterious pirate, but that was never confirmed as authentic. Entertainment Weekly spoke with director J.J. Abrams, who revealed that this character has been hiding in plain sight on the poster that debuted last month. Here's what the director had to say, confirming that the diminutive alien shown on R2-D2's left in the one-sheet is in fact Maz Kanata.
"That's Maz. I had some specific ideas about how she would work and what she would do. 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."
In the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Maz Kanata is speaking to someone, and while it isn't exactly specified who she's talking to, it is believed to be Daisy Ridley's Rey, who says "I'm no one" when Maz asks "Who are you?" While it seems obvious that Rey is the one answering the question, EW speculates that it may actually be someone else. And that this brief introduction reveals more about Maz than we realize. There still isn't much we know about Maz, who is rumored to be a pirate that runs a bar much like the iconic Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. As it turns out, this is one of the few rumors that have proven to be authentic, according to J.J. Abrams. Here's what he had to say about this new character.
"Her history is that she was a pirate for a long time. 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. All that backstory will be forthcoming. In the movie, you don't learn these things, but I know that these are things that are coming out in other venues."
He wouldn't specify what "other venues" will reveal more about Maz, but there are still a number of books yet to be released in a series known as Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It's possible this character could also show up in the video game Star Wars Battlefront, set for release on November 17. Maz is described as an "ancient alien with connections to the mystical side of the galaxy," but hopefully we'll learn more about this character soon. The filmmaker also revealed that he originally wanted to portray this pirate as a practical puppet, but he eventually leaned towards creating this character through motion capture.
"I wanted to do the creature as a puppet originally, but once we figured out the things that she was required to do, it felt like [performance capture] was the way to go. Maz needed to look and feel and be just like one of those creatures. And 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 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."
Lupita Nyong'o, who won an Oscar for her first feature film performance in 12 Years a Slave, had never worked with motion capture before. She was coached by the best in the business, Andy Serkis, at his digital studio known as The Imaginarium. Here's what she had to say about about working with Andy Serkis
"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. The biggest advice he gave me, that was so important to hold on to, is a motion-capture character you develop the same way as any other. You have to understand who the character is and what makes them who they are."
Later tonight, new footage from Star Wars: The Force Awakens will debut during ABC's Thursday night lineup of Scandal, Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder. Shonda Rhimes, who created all three shows, will appear with select cast members to debut this new footage, which may give us our first real look at Maz Kanata in action. What do you think about this intriguing new character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Chime in with your thoughts, and stay tuned for the new footage debuting later tonight.