Lupita Nyong'o Embraces Star Wars Acting Challenge

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Lupita Nyong’o’s acting chops were tested in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh installment in the blockbuster franchise. Her character, Maz Kanata, is CGI-created, so audiences will hear Nyong’o’s voice, yet won’t physically see her.

After her Oscar-winning role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o welcomed the challenge offered by the Star Wars character.

12 Years a Slave was a film that was so much about my body, and Star Wars is not at all. There was a liberation in being able to play in a medium where my body was not the thing in question,” Nyong’o told BuzzFeed News. “The acting challenge I was looking for was completely different, a complete departure from 12 Years a Slave.”

CGI requires a different type of acting than what Nyong’o is used to, but she embraced the opportunity.

“Motion-capture is something that I’ve had my eye on ever since seeing Andy Serkis in Lord of the Rings, and then going on to see Zoe Saldana do it, and Benedict Cumberbatch, and folks like that,” she told Refinery29 on December 8. “It looked like an opportunity to really play as an actor, because you’re not limited by your physical circumstances. And after playing Patsey in 12 Years a Slave, which was so much about the body, here was an opportunity where I was completely relieved of that. And I liked it.”

Communicating with her eyes was a big part of Nyongo's role, since she's not on screen.

"As an actor for films, your eyes are a lot of the way you communicate anyway,” Nyong’o told Entertainment Weekly. “So it was definitely a gift to have that be the means to her magic as a motion-capture character.”

This won’t be Nyong’o’s last go with CGI. She’s set to star in the live adaptation of Disney’s The Jungle Book. Meanwhile, she's basking in this Star Wars moment.

“I feel really honored to be a part of this. To play any small role in it is an honor and a blessing, and it’s something I just never dreamed of being a part of."

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