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Star Wars Interview: Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o

December 15, 2015

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By: Lynn Barker

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it is 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi (1983). Now, the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire have become the Resistance and the First Order, respectively. Luke (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher), Han (Harrison Ford), Chewie (Peter Mayhew) and more of the original trilogy cast are back but are joined by a whole fleet of new actors and characters.

Leia and Han together againLeia and Han together againCourtesy of Disney

First, let’s catch up with Carrie and meet Adam, Daisy, Lupita and their characters.

Carrie Fisher is General Leia Organa, no longer called Princess Leia. After the events of Return of the Jedi, and years of struggle, she is described as "a little more battle weary, a little more broken-hearted." Fisher described Leia as "solitary”. "She is under a lot of pressure and committed as ever to her cause, but I would imagine feeling somewhat defeated, tired, and pissed." The stakes are very high for her in the film.

Adam Driver is Kylo Ren, a dark warrior strong with the Force, originally a member of the Knights of Ren, and commander of the First Order. Driver has said that the team tried "not to think of him as being bad, or evil, or a villain. He’s more dangerous and unpredictable, and morally justified in doing what he thinks is right."

Daisy Ridley plays Rey, a scavenger on the desert planet Jakku. Daisy has called her "Completely self-sufficient. She does everything for herself, until she meets Finn (a former Empire Stormtrooper) and an adventure begins."

Lupita Nyong'o plays motion capture character Maz Kanata, an alien pirate. Lupita has said Kanata has "lived over a thousand years. She's had this watering hole for about a century, and it's like another bar that you'd find in a corner of the Star Wars universe."

Adam as Kylo Ren out of his suitAdam as Kylo Ren out of his suitCourtesy of Disney

At the interview, actress Mindy Kaling who voiced Disgust in the popular animated film Inside Out asked some of the questions. She is just funny by nature. Director/writer J.J. Abrams also comments. The group talks cool costumes, most frightening moments on set and more. Carrie and Daisy talk girl power. Check it out!

  • Mindy: Carrie, as a writer, you have a great sense of humor. Do you think Princess Leia has a good sense of humor?
  • Carrie: She would have to wearing those hair pieces! I do now have a baboon-butt hairstyle. I mean that with love. So you need a sense of humor for that sort of thing. It keeps it lively and fun when you’re getting shot at in everything. No, it’s the hair that really makes you funny. You should know that.
  • Mindy: Adam, your character Kylo Ren seems very serious. What is he like?
  • Adam: Yeah, he’s very unpolished and unfinished. I think what J.J. and Larry did keeping all the vocabulary that everyone’s very familiar with in Star Wars and The Dark Side; keeping that very much intact but also adding a kind of recklessness or something that’s kind of un-neat about it. Whereas, I think people normally associate with The Dark Side being organized and very in control and calm and in command.

Adam Driver as Kylo RenAdam Driver as Kylo RenCourtesy of Disney
  • Mindy: So J.J. aren’t you rich? Why did you want to do this movie?
  • Carrie: You want to borrow money for him or something?
  • JJ: This is a project that I felt incredibly lucky to be asked to be a part of. I think I speak for all of us, except for maybe Harrison when I say this was not a job. I’m kidding, Harrison was unbelievable. (This movie) was nothing that I think any one of us took on because it was a gig that was available. It was something that felt like a true passion and something that every single person brought much more than any of us could’ve expected. I do honestly feel honored to be part of this group.
  • Mindy: Who was the most difficult actor to work with?
  • JJ: Everyone was shockingly and eerily wonderful to work with. To get to work with people like Carrie and Harrison and Mark and people who I was a fan of since I was 11 years old, and also actors like Lupita and Daisy and Adam and John, it was so much fun to see them working together and to see how that alchemy came out. It was really a spectacular and fun thing every day.
  • Mindy: Lupita, you play a former space pirate who now runs a bar. How do you get along with Yoda? (Note: maybe they are of the same species?)

Lupita's Yoda-like characterLupita's Yoda-like characterCourtesy of Disney
  • Lupita: He was my first love, no. That’s a good movie too. Ideas for Disney.
  • JJ: I do believe that Maz and Yoda at one point crossed paths, but that is not something that, of course due to the events of past films, happens in this one.
  • Mindy: Lupita, was it a solitary experience doing motion capture?
  • Lupita: Fortunately for me, J.J. had me be a part of principal photography so my very first experience of motion capture was on the actual sets with the actual actors. So I’m eternally grateful to him for giving me that because it was a great way to get into this wonderful, crazy thing called motion capture. I got to be on those sets and see those things and feel them.
  • With the art direction, there’s so much detail even when you’re standing on that set, it’s mesmerizing. I think audiences are going to have a very immersive experience, much like we had filming it. So it was good to have that, and the physicality is something that then carries on into the theater for sure. That was a thing that attracted me to the idea of playing motion capture. The idea of working with a character that wasn’t limited by my physical circumstances. I could work with my body in new ways and I continued that onto the stage.

Lupita in motion capture suitLupita in motion capture suitCourtesy of Disney
  • JJ: She was remarkably tireless and willing to experiment with different versions of this character. It was kind of an amazing thing to discover over various iterations of Maz, what she sounded like, how she moved. It was really, I’ve never been through this before with an actor where we got to discover again and again and again how to better tell the story we were telling. I always felt guilty every time we started up another session, or we needed some reshoots. Every single time, Lupita was willing and game and deeply committed and into finding Maz Kanata’s voice and again, I’m just eternally grateful.
  • Mindy: Athletes have a walk up song to enter an arena (like going into battle). Does Rey have one, Daisy?
  • Daisy: I actually have one. Not to advertise Disney even more, but it’s Mulan, “I’ll Make A Man Out of You.” I used to play the trailer before I went on. “Mister I will make a man out of you.” It’s iconic. 

Daisy Ridley with director J.J. Abrams on setDaisy Ridley with director J.J. Abrams on setCourtesy of Disney

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

 

Q: That is sooo cool!  Carrie and Daisy, can you talk about bringing out the girl power in the original trilogy and in The Force Awakens?

  • Daisy: You began this whole thing!
  • Carrie: I am the beginning of girl power. DEAL WITH IT! No, I got to be the only girl on the all boy set which was really fun to put things in their drinks and stuff like that. Girl power, Leia’s more powerful in the good old “Yes, I’m louder than you” way. So she takes on the physical powerfully and then I scream at the boys until they pass out. That’s me. I make fun of them. What was really fun about doing anything girl power-esque is bossing men around. I know a lot of you women out there haven’t done that yet and I encourage you to do so later today.
  • Daisy: Well, obviously Princess Leia and Carrie are a source of inspiration for girls for the past 30 years. I’m definitely not quite there yet but I hope Rey will be something of a girl power figure. And I think the writing by J.J. and Larry (Kasdan), and the story she is woven into, she holds an important role. I guess there’s no other way except to say that she will have some impact in a girl power-y way. I’m so not eloquent, sorry. She’s brave and she’s vulnerable and she’s so nuanced. That’s what’s so exciting playing a role like this. She doesn’t have to be one thing to embody a woman in a film, and for me she’s not important because she’s a woman. She’s just important. It just so happens that she’s a woman. Like she transcends gender. She’s going to speak to men and women, but obviously we started with Leia and Leia’s still there kicking ass. We’ve got Maz kicking ass too so it’s wonderful to be part of with, as well, a wonderful crew and cast of wonderful women.

Daisy and Carrie as Rey and LeiaDaisy and Carrie as Rey and LeiaCourtesy of Disney

Q: Do you think this movie will be a family experience?

  • Carrie: I find that it’s really a family experience. I’ve had people over the years come up, “I’m showing this to my child. I didn’t want to wait ‘til they were six so I went with five.” You watch your children watch the movie and you learn something about your children. Will we like the same characters? Halloween becomes more of a Thanksgiving experience without the turkey. You see all these pictures of entire families dressed as the characters. I find that so moving. It’s just an amazingly emotional movie.

A worried General Organa (Carrie Fisher)A worried General Organa (Carrie Fisher)Courtesy of Disney

Q: Does anyone have a scariest moment on your first day of shooting?

  • Carrie: Bad memory. Not remembering my lines. That was scary. Also I’m the custodian of Princess Leia so I never got out of character and I wondered if that would be noticed. No, but I was very nervous. It’s been 40 years for other people. It’s been a long time and I don’t like looking at myself at this age in a large way, so that was scary and remains so.
  • Lupita: For me, playing a motion capture character, this was something completely new to me and walking into a room, I had to do this thing where they had to take my picture from all directions at one time. I had to stand in the middle and do a 360 cameras all around me. That freaked me out.
  • Adam: I don’t know. I guess I’m kind of terrified before most jobs. The prospect that this is Star Wars and all the kind of iconography associated with it, I tried to not think about as much as possible. So maybe when I first started, then kind of suppressing that as much as possible and trying to break it up into moments in that way. But I don’t remember one thing in particular that seemed particularly terrifying.
  • Daisy: My whole first day was pretty terrifying. I didn’t find a moment that was any less or more than the other. I think for me it’s being cast in a role, as everyone knows I’ve not really done much before. So other people saw something in me that perhaps I didn’t see myself and I’m still not quite sure if it’s there. So the fear of not fulfilling that potential was terrifying.
  • JJ: The scariest day for me was when Harrison Ford was injured, which was just absolutely hideous. Every day felt like there were challenges because I knew how important this was to so many people. That was never a presence that went away. Every decision I knew had this importance and yet we had a day to make, we had a story to tell and it was always about trying to do the best work possible.

Rey (Daisy) in battleRey (Daisy) in battleCourtesy of Disney

Q: Many of us have been thinking about what happened after Return of the Jedi for  years. Did the cast have those questions, and when you got to answer them did it live up to your expectations?

  • Daisy: I wasn’t a huge fan of the whole thing. I’d seen them and I’d had kind of interest but I missed the Star Wars boat as it was, so I didn’t wonder that so much. Even so, it was very exciting finding out what did come after Jedi.
  • Adam: I would say that it’s still called Star Wars for me, in a way it’s 30 years later but the exact same things are going on in a way, which I thought was so telling, so true to life. It seems like finding these people and a lot of things have changed, like the setting, but really the circumstances are the same I thought was very true like, “Oh, I always knew that Leia would be doing this or Solo would be doing this.” More like nothing really changes.

Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the desertRey (Daisy Ridley) in the desertCourtesy of Disney

Q: Adam, how do you carry forward the history of great antagonists/villains with Kylo Ren?

  • Adam: I think a lot of it is beyond my control I would say. Again, I feel like I was so aware of the movies but my friends’ kids now, they haven’t seen the movies but they’re somehow so aware of everything that happens. I think that’s how I was introduced to them through the merchandising, toys and stormtrooper helmets and things like that.
  • So I feel like we tried to not think about that as much as possible. I remember early on, not think of him being bad or evil or a villain and try to make something that was more three dimensional. He’s someone who feels morally justified in doing whatever they need to. This seemed more active to play than just being evil for the sake of it. That’s not really fun to play I guess.

Adam DriverAdam DriverCourtesy of Disney

Q: Which was the most difficult costume to put together?

  • JJ:  I cannot wait for you to see the costumes in this movie. There are so many cool ones, and many you have not seen at all. The most difficult one was Kylo Ren and we went through I don’t know how many hundreds and probably thousands of iterations and different versions. When we finally saw the mask and that design, it was really instantly clear that was the winner.

Q: How long did it take the actors to get into costume?

  • Daisy: Twenty minutes. Does that seem long or short? Honestly the armor thing takes a while and the wraps and everything. I had a wonderful woman called Callie helping me.
  • Adam: The first time took like an hour and a half. Then we got it down to like 20 minutes.
  • Lupita: Well, I didn’t have a costume because I was a motion capture character, but to get suited up (in the motion capture suit) in the beginning took about two and a half hours, maybe three. Then by the end we had it down to about an hour, an hour 15.
  • JJ: Lupita had dots on her teeth. Like everywhere. She had dots all over the place and actually not until today have I met her without dots.
  • Lupita: I’m still finding them in things.
  • Carrie: How long did it take to get into costume? About ten minutes. I’m older and I do it faster. No, really, twenty minutes. I have a kind of classy gas station attendant look. That’s not funny. Well, look at it. Or I’d say I was an airplane repair attendant with a nice vest over that and different hair than most airplane attendants would normally have. I’m bringing baboon butt hair again.

Lupita with motion capture dotsLupita with motion capture dotsCourtesy of Disney

Stars Wars: The Force Awakens is in theaters December 18th!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens PosterStar Wars: The Force Awakens PosterCourtesy of Disney
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