‘Star Wars’ Takes Oscar-Winning Actress Lupita Nyong’o to Another Acting Universe

Lupita Nyong'o poses with some First Order Stormtroopers at the world premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens.' (Photo: Getty Images for Disney)
Lupita Nyong’o poses with some First Order Stormtroopers at the world premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’ (Photo: Getty Images for Disney)

Lupita Nyong’o works alongside some of the biggest actors in the Star Wars universe in her new movie, though it’s another galactic first-timer who helped the most when it came to playing The Force Awakens‘ new space pirate.

The Oscar-winning actress of 12 Years A Slave fame takes on the motion-capture role of Maz Kanata, a short alien with cool glasses and a watering hole that’s just as crazy and colorful as that infamous Mos Eisley cantina, though with a lot less wanton violence and loss of limbs. She also may be holding a key to the bigger journey of new Star Wars heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley).

Plus, she got to learn from motion-capture guru Andy Serkis, who has played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes movies and big bad Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens (previews start Thursday night).

“The advice he gave me that stayed with me was ‘Go about creating this character like any other role,’ ” says Nyong’o.

Figuring out Maz’s voice alongside director J.J. Abrams meant a major exploration of the role. “When you’re playing a motion-capture character, every single choice is an important choice,” she says. “At the end of the day, it’s a totally other being who is going to inhabit those choices.”

That acting technique has had a positive effect on her performance in other venues, such as starring in Danai Gurira’s play Eclipsed that moves to Broadway in February.

“Motion capture gave me a real appreciation for my relationship with my body and how I tell stories,” Nyong’o says. “Then to be able to go back to theater where you really get to use your body to tell a story was really valuable.”

The Force Awakens is a large departure from her normal work on stage and in independent films, showing her how crazy fans can get over every little piece of Star Wars. “I’m very excited and full of love for this odyssey,” she says. “I feel very blessed to be on the inside of it.”

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SOURCE: USA Today – Brian Truitt