Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong’o played the role of Maz Kanata, a Force-sensitive space pirate, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), where the character was created using motion capture technology.
Nyong’o sought a role where her appearance was not a defining factor, presenting a unique challenge distinct from her previous role as Patsey in the 2013 biographical drama film 12 Years a Slave.
The flags displayed outside Maz Kanata’s castle bear a variety of symbols, including Boba Fett’s Mythosaur skull, Ziro the Hutt’s Black Sun tattoo, Hondo Ohnaka’s pirate emblem, and several Podracer flags.
In the Star Wars franchise, Maz Kanata is a fictional character who made her debut in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Notably, one of the flags proudly features the symbol of the 501st Legion, an international fan-based organization committed to crafting and donning precise replicas of Imperial Stormtrooper armor, Sith Lords, Clone Troopers, bounty hunters, and other iconic villains from the Star Wars universe.
The inspiration for the character of Maz Kanata in the Star Wars franchise came from J.J. Abrams’ former English teacher, Rose Gilbert.
Maz’s distinctive look, particularly her large glasses, was reportedly reminiscent of Gilbert’s appearance. During pre-production, it was discovered that production designer Rick Carter had also been taught by Rose Gilbert.
The character of Maz Kanata in the Star Wars franchise was inspired by J.J. Abrams’ former English teacher, Rose Gilbert, whose distinctive appearance, including large glasses, influenced the design (Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
As they developed the design for Maz, Carter attempted to reach out to Gilbert to share the connection, only to learn that she had passed away at the age of 95.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, J.J. Abrams provided additional insights into Maz Kanata’s backstory, going beyond what was conveyed in the movie.
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.
During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2014, J.J. Abrams revealed an interesting anecdote about the music in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He mentioned that while the majority of the film’s score was composed by the legendary John Williams, Williams opted not to write the music for the scene set in Maz Kanata’s tavern. Instead, Abrams took it upon himself to start composing a piece of music for that particular scene.
However, fate intervened when Abrams attended the musical “Hamilton” and had the chance to meet its talented composer, Lin-Manuel Miranda. In a lighthearted manner, Abrams jokingly expressed his desire for Miranda to create music for a new cantina scene in Star Wars. Surprisingly, Miranda was open to the idea and agreed to the proposition.
Following their encounter, Abrams followed up with Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the composer gladly accepted the offer to contribute music for the scene in Maz Kanata’s tavern. This collaboration resulted in a unique and memorable addition to the film’s score, showcasing the blending of talents from both John Williams and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
While some critics have pointed out the relatively limited screen time of Maz Kanata in the trilogy, the acclaim for Lupita Nyong’o’s performance and the technical execution of the character has been widespread (Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
During the production of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there were originally plans for Maz Kanata to accompany the heroes back to the Resistance base. This explains why a scene featuring her giving Anakin’s lightsaber to Leia was included in the film’s trailer. However, in the final version of the movie, this scene was cut, and Maz’s presence at the Resistance base was also eliminated.
The speculation that the name “Maz Kanata” is a clever reference to the song “Mas Que Nada” is intriguing and could be a plausible nod from the creators of the character. Given that “Mas Que Nada” translates to “more than anything” in Brazilian Portuguese slang, it would align with the idea of emphasizing the significance of what comes after the phrase.
Lupita Nyong’o did film scenes involving Maz Kanata at the Resistance base, but they were later deemed unnecessary and were ultimately removed from the final edit of the film. As a result, Maz’s involvement in the heroes’ return to the Resistance base was left out of the final storyline, and her appearance in the film was limited to her scenes at her castle and her interactions with Rey and Finn.
Lupita Nyong’o’s meeting with J.J. Abrams for an undisclosed role was reported in March 2014, and her casting in the film was officially announced on April 29, 2014, revealing that she would be portraying the performance capture-CGI character, pirate Maz Kanata (Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Critics, including Scott Mendelson of Forbes and Stephanie Zacharek of Time magazine, praised Nyong’o’s portrayal, with Mendelson highlighting her character’s pivotal role in the film’s best sequence. Her performance earned her nominations for Best Supporting Actress at the 42nd Saturn Awards and Best Virtual Performance at the 2016 MTV Movie Awards.
Nyong’o reprised her role as Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) directed by Rian Johnson, as well as in the animated series Star Wars Forces of Destiny. Additionally, she returned to portray Maz Kanata for the third time in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the concluding installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Lupita Nyong’o also voiced the character Maz Kanata in the 2016 Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens video game.
Lupita Nyong’o Stuns in Sequin Dress at Star Wars: The Last Jedi Premiere
The computer-generated character Maz Kanata is expertly brought to life through motion capture and is voiced by Lupita Nyong’o (Credit: FayesVision / Apega / Adriana M. Barraza / WENN)
In December 2017, Lupita Nyong’o stayed faithful to the holiday trend by debuting a sequin look on the red carpet as she attended the “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” premiere in Los Angeles.
Lupita Nyong’o wears a green holiday dress by Halpern Studio at the premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in Los Angeles on December 10, 2017 (Credit: FayesVision / Apega / Adriana M. Barraza / WENN)
The actress reprised her role as the voice actress of alien codebreaker Maz Kanata.
Lupita Nyong’o brings the shine to her toes in a pair of Jimmy Choo “Minny” sandals (Credit: FayesVision / Apega / Adriana M. Barraza / WENN)
Lupita was mermaid-like in a green sequin dress by Halpern Studio, which mixed mesh, sequins, and a beautiful pleated metallic fabric.
Lupita Nyong’o shows off her feet in Jimmy Choo’s bestselling “Minny” sandals (Credit: FayesVision / Apega / Adriana M. Barraza / WENN)
The actress mixed her green metallics with gold accessories. Lupita wore beautiful diamond-encrusted rings and earrings by Tiffany & Co. to crank up the sparkles. A gold Tyler Ellis clutch echoed her jewelry.
A pair of silver Jimmy Choo “Minny” sandals finished the look.
Lupita Nyong’o sports metallic makeup by Lancôme (Credit: FayesVision / Apega / Adriana M. Barraza / WENN)
Lupita’s stylist Micaela Erlanger uploaded a video showing her client’s sparkly outfit. Micaela captioned the video, “She brought the galaxy with her @halpernstudio.”
The actress brought her brother Peter Nyong’o to the premiere, saying that he might actually follow in the footsteps of the actress because he’s “he’s quite the performer.”
Lupita Nyong’o brings her brother Peter Nyong’o along to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi Premiere (Credit: FayesVision / Apega / Adriana M. Barraza / WENN)
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