Lupita Nyong’o had two days to pack her suitcase for London when she found out she was cast in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Oscar Isaac had a little different reaction. Already in London, he blasted the iconic Star Wars theme in his hotel room and began using a bottle of shampoo like an X-wing starfighter. Not going to lie, I probably would have gone a bit crazy myself. Both of these young actors just walked into the Star Wars legacy!
Lupita Nyong’o and Oscar Isaac
Both Lupita Nyong’o and Oscar Isaac were already Star Wars fans prior to their auditions. For Lupita, she says she was “born into Star Wars.” Growing up, the region she lived in only had two channels. Star Wars played often, even on public holidays across their national television stations. Everyone watched it and was very familiar with the saga. Therefore, for her, it was a “comfortable, cozy part of [her] imaginative folklore.” Yet, it wasn’t until after she was cast that she realized just how far and wide the fan base for the the franchise was. In her words, “how dedicated — how enthusiastic — people are about this world that George Lucas created.”
“I felt it dawn on me for the first time, I think, stepping onto the actual set, that I was a part of it… I looked around and there 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.”
As for Oscar, he remembers his very first movie to ever see in a theater: Return of the Jedi. He recalls how it “blew [his] little brain mind” and he became a lifelong fan at that moment. In fact, his entire family became fans. For Oscar, Star Wars represented family. They would throw themed parties with each new movie release and memorize fight scenes to play out with his family. At the same time, he says he felt a sense of ownership over it. An intimate relationship that most of us feel with the characters and their journey. Now, Mr. Isaac has joined that fantastical world he grew up in and to create a new character. To him, he knows that “it’s not just a film. It’s a cultural phenomenon.” That has to be a lot to take in one you become part of the legacy.
Oscar Isaac plays Poe Dameron. “He 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. And 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. That definitely influences how he operates in the world.”
Lupita Nyong’o plays a character with much secrecy behind it. She could really only tell us that her “character’s name is Maz Kanata and she is a pirate and owns a bar.” That was pretty much it. She was able to discuss a bit about the CGI process she endured each day for filming. Actually, J.J. Abrams even mentioned it in the Global Press Conference later that day. He said that Lupita had dots everywhere — even on her teeth. She was able to talk about seeing her character for the first time though.
“It was strange. It’s, again, 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.“
Lupita Nyong’o also mentioned being involved in the development of her character. When was brought on, Maz Kanata’s role in the movie was still being discussed and they welcomed Lupita into the conversation. And although there are new characters and fresh faces on the screen, Lupita Nyong’o stated that after seeing the film, it felt like a “seamless continuation of the Star Wars saga. And, because what they’ve done is… kept the integrity of the world that George Lucas created and, somehow, they have managed to integrate all this new technology and these new story lines. They work effortlessly together and it’s a beautiful, visual experience and a moving story. I think the fans that the franchise already has will be very happy and I think the new fans will be equally thrilled by this amazingly creative world.”
Read what other cast and crew members had to say as well: