Skip to main content

Lupita Nyongo’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens character is an alien named Maz Kanata

star wars the force awakens lupita nyongo character
Image used with permission by copyright holder
At long last, the mystery surrounding the character to be played by Lupita Nyong’o in Star Wars: The Force Awakens has started to unravel. Director J.J. Abrams recently discussed her role as alien Maz Kanata with EW, including the fact that he originally considered using a puppet instead of an actual actor.

Nyong’o is heard as Maz in voiceover in a recent TV spot for The Force Awakens, but fans were curious as to what she would actually look like. It turns out, though, that there was no need to wonder. Abrams shared that her appearance has actually already been revealed: she’s the smiling goggle-wearing alien on the movie poster.

The eyewear isn’t an extraterrestrial fashion statement, but instead will serve a purpose. “I had this pitch about these goggles that she wore,” Abrams told EW. “Her eyes are an important aspect of her character, and you’ll see how it plays out.”

Abrams wasn’t willing to go into all of the details about her origins, but he did share that she lives in a castle with a court of misfits and is over a thousand years old. With such a long history, her background is interesting — she was once a pirate, but is now a business owner. Abrams shared that she has run a “watering hole” for around a century. “It’s like another bar that you’d find in a corner of the Star Wars universe,” said Abrams.

Originally, Abrams intended to use a puppet to play Maz, but he realized that performance capture would work better given what her character is required to do. It was a decision that made Maz different from many of the other characters in her court, so it was important that she fit in. “Maz needed to look and feel and be just like one of those creatures,” said Abrams. “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.”

For Nyong’o, performance-capture was a new adventure, but she had support from co-star Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke), who is a vet after roles in The Lord of the Rings and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. “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,” said the actress.

We’ll learn more about Maz Kanata when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephanie Topacio Long
Stephanie Topacio Long is a writer and editor whose writing interests range from business to books. She also contributes to…
The Mandalorian season 3 episode 2’s legendary Star Wars beast, explained
the mandalorian season 3 episode 2 mythosaur explained a ray of light shines on an old helmet in

Warning: This article contains major spoilers for The Mandalorian season 3 episode 2, The Mines of Mandalore.

Coming off its lackluster season 3 premiere, The Mandalorian has returned with an episode that helps put the Disney+ series back on track. The episode, titled The Mines of Mandalore, sends Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu to the surface of its eponymous, destroyed planet. His journey to the planet’s living waters takes a dangerous turn, however, when he is captured by a malevolent alien lurking deep beneath Mandalore’s surface.

Read more
A Disturbance in the Force trailer shines light on infamous Star Wars Holiday Special
The cast of Star Wars standing next to each other.

In 1978, CBS aired the Star Wars Holiday Special, a two-hour spin-off film 18 months after the success of A New Hope. The special never aired again. A new documentary, A Disturbance in the Force, attempts to figure out what went wrong with the most reviled Star Wars adventure in franchise history.

A Disturbance in the Force Teaser Trailer - SXSW 2023

Read more
The 10 most popular movies of all time, ranked by box office gross
The cast of Star Wars.

There are many reasons why a film can become hugely popular. It could be a creative and thrilling story, awe-inspiring and innovative visuals, compelling characters, or enthralling performances from the cast.

But when all these factors come together, they can make a film that resonates with countless audiences and wins even bigger at the box office. While Hollywood has released many worldwide hits over the years, a select few movies hit the exactright mark in theaters, cementing themselves as cinematic juggernauts.

Read more