Two of the most enigmatic beings in Star Wars: The Force Awakens are getting a curtain call.
With the movie poised to cross the threshold for the highest domestic gross in history, many have already laid eyes on alien barkeep Maz Kanata and the sinister Supreme Leader Snoke. But now Disney/Lucasfilm has released some new stills of the characters.
Before this, the only publicly available shots were of Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o in her performance capture make-up as Maz (followed by a tiny glimpse of her on the poster) and Andy Serkis in similar gear for his shadowy ruler of The First Order.
We now have a new shot of the orange-skinned piratess (suitable for framing by her “boyfriend” Chewbacca) and three showing the damaged visage of Snoke, who appears in the film as a massive, ominous hologram.
In an interview with EW, Nyong’o said Maz’s eyes, which are augmented by a series of adjustable lenses, gave her something compelling to explore about the little alien’s physicality. “As an actor for films, your eyes are a lot of the way you communicate anyway,” says Nyong’o. “So it was definitely a gift to have that be the means to her magic as a motion-capture character.”
Although Nyong’o and Serkis didn’t share any scenes, the two worked closely together, since the actor has pioneered performance capture acting through roles such as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films and Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes movies.
“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. You have to understand who the character is and what makes them who they are,” she says.
Serkis said he sympathized with fans who were dying to know more about Snoke before the film’s debut. That’s how he felt when he started, too. “It’s the first time I’ve been on set not yet knowing what the character’s gonna look like. I mean, talk about secrecy!” the actor told EW.
“When we first started working on it, he had some rough notions of how Snoke was gonna look, but it really hadn’t been fully-formed and it almost came out of discussion and performance,” Serkis added.
Although there was much speculation about who Snoke might turn out to be (one popular theory was that he’d turn out to be a Sith Lord known from the prequels as Darth Plagueis) he actually turns out to be … just Snoke.
Serkis said the character was aware of the events from the earlier films but was a new addition to the storyline.
“Supreme Leader Snoke is quite an enigmatic character, and strangely vulnerable at the same time as being quite powerful,” Serkis says. “Obviously he has a huge agenda. He has suffered a lot of damage. As I said, there is a strange vulnerability to him, which belies his true agenda, I suppose.”
It’s also clear from the character’s scarred, cavernous face why prosthetic make-up wasn’t an option. As Serkis explained before anyone outside the film saw Snoke, it could only have been played through motion-capture. “The scale of him, for instance, is one reason,” Serkis said. LHe is large. He appears tall. And also just the facial design — you couldn’t have gotten there with prosthetics. It’s too extreme. Without giving too much away at this point, he has a very distinctive, idiosyncratic bone structure and facial structure. You could never have done it [in real life.]”
We’ll have to wait until Episode VIII, which starts shooting this month and debuts in May 2017, to learn more. Hopefully there will be plenty more Maz and Snoke to go around.