As part of the Star Wars Press Junket we were able to interview a character you have not seen in the trailers. At least I didn’t notice her, but I didn’t even notice her in the movie poster either.
That little character there is Maz Kanata played by Lupita Nyong’o. She’s right next to Poe Dameron played by Oscar Issac. Lupita and Oscar were kind enough to give us a bit of their time. We were able to talk about the Movie The Force Awakens as much as they were allowed. For example she told us her character is a pirate and owns a bar. Oscar was able to tell us a little bit more.
I can say that Poe Dameron is a pilot and he is committed to the Resistance and to defeating the First Order. He believes in the Force and he can be a little reckless in wanting to prove that he is a leader and a hero and I think he also has that swagger and confidence that comes from people that can soar above everyone else and do all these things at once, like fighting a fighter jet and getting into these dog fights and be so close to the edge of death. That definitely influences how he operates in the world.
One thing that seems to be on everyone’s mind is what is your Star Wars story? I have a ton and what’s sad is I can’t remember the first time I saw Star Wars. It feels like I’ve been watching it forever, so I say I grew up with Star Wars. Well someone during the interview asked Oscar and Lupita what their connection to Star Wars was and this is what they said.
I was born into Star Wars, I feel. It was a very normal part of my childhood. It would come on public holidays on the national television. We only had two channels so Star Wars was on and everybody watched it and everybody was familiar with it because it was all there was to watch on TV and we all loved it and so it was just a very normal comfortable, cozy part of my imaginative folklore. It wasn’t until being cast in it that I realized what it meant on a meta level to the world and how big the fan base is, how dedicated, how enthusiastic people are about this world that George Lucas created. I felt it dawned on me for the first time stepping onto the actual set that I was a part of it, because I looked around and these were these very expansive sets and there was so much detail taken into the creation of every single thing: the textures, the colors. You really did feel like you were on another planet and I think that was the time when I realized wow, I’m a part of something that has and will continue to go down in history.
The first movie I ever saw in the theater was Return of the Jedi, amazingly. It’s pretty crazy. So now that I’ve done this one I’m going to stop doing movies now. It definitely changed my life. It kind of blew my little kid brain, and I was a huge fan ever since. And my family were very big fans and every time a new film would come out we’d throw themed parties and memorize the fight scenes to a T and terrorize my family with them. For me Star Wars always represented and meant quite literally coming together as a family, and having a great time and it was an excuse to do that.
At the same time, it’s like that thing where there’s this ownership over it and there’s an intimate relationship with it and then also it just is something completely outside of anyone’s real reality and then suddenly to actually be asked to join that, and not only be in it but to contribute something and create a new character, which it really was that. It was an evolution. The character changed so much from what originally was there when J.J. and I first met to what ultimately ends up on screen. So it really did feel like creating something. It’s kind of hard to process, especially now. You really feel that receding of all the water because the tsunami’s about to hit. You know, that’s kind of what this moment is really where it’s just about to crest over. So yes, it’s not just a film. It’s a cultural phenomenon and it’s just hard to process.
Someone else asked if anyone gave them any advice on how to do their characters and they both said no. They are new characters and they were able to make them their own. But they did have a lot to say about the first time they saw their characters in the movie.
It’s strange. It’s difficult to process. It’s a lot of mixed emotions because you’re seeing it as a fan. You’re seeing the new thing. You’re exhilarated by that. You’re understanding what the world is because it’s one thing to see it all put together. I was being affected as a viewer and then also the memories of what shooting was like and what takes were used and what takes were not used and what was moved to another place and how it affects the thing. So there’s so much going on that it’s a very trippy moment.
When I signed on to play Maz they were still developing the character and her role in the film and what she was going to look like and all that, and they welcomed me into that conversation which was really cool to see the early stages of her and how she’s evolved over time. Because she’s CGI they’ve been working on her for a long, a long time. And then to finally see the film and to see what became of her and somehow it’s me but it’s definitely not me. It’s bizarre. I’ve never seen myself like that, in another body altogether. And then you see the whole film as well and it’s overwhelming. I mean it’s overwhelming and it’s beauty. My take away from seeing the film was that it felt to me like a seamless continuation of the Star Wars saga. What they’ve done is they have kept the integrity of the world that George Lucas created and somehow they have managed to integrate all this new technology and these new storylines and they work effortlessly together. It’s a, a beautiful, visual experience and a moving story and I think the fans that the franchise already has will be very happy and I think the new fans will be equally thrilled by this amazingly creative world.
I really can’t wait to see this movie and learn more about their characters. There is an awakening!