After Vanity Fair released Annie Leibovitz’s behind-the-scenes photos of Star Wars: The Force Awakens last week, audiences were finally made privy to a few details surrounding Lupita Nyong’o‘s (12 Years a Slave) well-kept secret role. The spread featured Nyong’o in motion capture gear, revealing that she would be playing a CGI character, a character who we also learned is a pirate named Maz Kanata. Featured below is the photo captioned: “Galactic travellers, smugglers, and other assorted riffraff fill the main hall of pirate Maz Kanata’s castle.”
Recently released concept art, courtesy of Indie Revolver, finally gives fans an idea of what Kanata will look like, or more significantly, what she won’t look like—Nyong’o herself.
The art suggests that with the level of detail and truly alien-like features this character calls for, a simple makeup job on Nyong’o would be a hefty task, making apparent the need for CGI. Since first learning of Nyong’o’s transformation, many fans have questioned the need to hire a well-known actress to play the part when she’ll be practically unrecognizable. Perhaps the monikers “well-known” and “Oscar-winning” were too much of a draw for the casting directors to resist.
Yoda, one of the saga’s most beloved characters, was depicted by a puppet for the majority of the series until Episode II, when George Lucas decided to make the switch to CGI (Warwick Davis, who will be appearing in The Force Awakens, depicted Yoda in some walking scenes). For this reason, Nyong’o’s computer-enhanced depiction of Maz Kanata may create some contention among fans who long for the authenticity of the original trilogy. But the film will reportedly be featuring puppets and prosthetics wherever possible—hopefully to an extent that will please the die-hard fans.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters December 25. Keep checking back for our continued coverage leading up to the big day.