As part of my Star Wars press trip to LA, I was also able to interview Lupita Nyong’o and Oscar Isaac, 2 actors who have done amazing work. I mean, Lupita is an Oscar winner!!!
About their characters
Lupita: I can tell you that my character’s name is Maz Kanata and she is a pirate and owns a bar
Oscar: I can say that Poe Dameron is a pilot, not a pirate 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. 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 and that definitely influences how he operates in the world.
Their Star Wars Story
Lupita: 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. So, it was just a very normal, comfortable, cozy part of my imaginative folklore.
Oscar: The first movie I ever saw in the theater was Return of the Jedi, amazingly. It’s pretty crazy. Now that I’ve done this one I’m gonna stop doing movies now ‘cause I feel like I’m really into a symmetry…it definitely changed my mind, my life. It kind of blew my little kid brain. 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. So 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.
Being a part of the Star Wars Saga
Lupita: 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 these 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.
Oscar: 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 my, 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 JJ 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 because you start and especially now. You really feel that receding of all the water ‘cause 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 and so yes, it’s, it’s not just a film. It’s a cultural phenomenon and it’s just hard to process.
What it was like to see their character for the first time
Lupita: When I signed on to play Maz…they were still developing the character, her role in the film and what she was going to look like…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…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 all together. So, it was just as confusing and bizarre and titillating…and then you see the whole film as well and it’s overwhelming. I mean it’s overwhelming and it’s beauty.
Oscar: 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. So, 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, so much going on that it’s a very trippy moment.
Take away from seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Lupita: Take away from seeing the film was that it is a seamless. It felt to me like a seamless continuation of the Star Wars saga and because 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…It’s a beautiful, visual experience and a moving story and I think the fans will be very happy and I think the new fans will be equally thrilled by this amazingly creative world.
What they did when they found out that they actually got the part
Lupita: I got my suitcase…I literally found out like two days before I needed to be in London so I had to pack.
Oscar: I was in a hotel room in London so I just blasted the Star Wars theme and I grabbed the shampoo bottle and started using it like an X wing…
The audition process
Lupita: I met JJ to audition for something that I believe may have been Star Wars the week of the Oscars, when I was nominated for an Oscar, so I was in quite a whirlwind and I don’t really remember much about that audition…Then a few months after that, after the Oscars, I was in Morocco and I received a call from JJ saying this is the character…they flew someone to Morocco with the script for me to read and I read it over about two and a half hours and I was immediately intrigued by it and motion capture was something that I was interested in doing because I think it offers the actor a unique opportunity to play something that’s not limited by your physical circumstance and especially after playing Patsy who was so much about my physical circumstances. I wanted to get as far away from that as possible so that I’m not trying to second that experience at all and I can learn something and be in a completely new turf and for me motion capture was that. So, I was very interested and a few days later I got the call from my agent that I should pack up.
Oscar: I went in and I auditioned. I met JJ and then a few weeks later I went in and I read with John and I took pictures. I took some pictures next to Daisy, just to make sure I wasn’t too decrepit looking. Apparently I am, next to the sunshine.Then I did a couple of scenes and then that moment when I found out at the hotel that was about an hour later when I went home.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens officially arrives in theaters everywhere tomorrow, December 18th but you can catch early screenings tonight!
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*Thank you for the images Mom Start!