Movies

Star Wars women are a force to be reckoned with

One is a Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for 12 Years A Slave and the other is a fan favourite from the most downloaded TV show on the planet, Game Of Thrones.

But for Lupita Nyong'o and Gwendoline Christie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has pride of place on their resumes.

Both actresses grew up watching Star Wars on television and idolised Princess Leia.

And during their joint interview at the Los Angeles Convention Center, they were bubbling over with enthusiasm even as they struggled to sidestep questions because of the non-disclosure agreement all cast members are bound to.

Kenyan-Mexican Nyong'o, 32, is fully CGI as Maz Kanata, a tiny wizened pirate with a colourful past and a mentor of sorts to Han Solo.

And you never see Briton Christie, who's 37 and standing at an imposing 1.91m, without her full body armour as Captain Phasma, member of The First Order, leader of the Stormtroopers and the first female villain in the Star Wars movies.

If you didn't get enough of them in The Force Awakens, you'll be glad to know they are slated to play larger roles in the sequels.

Was there an unforgettable moment for you while filming?

Christie: I put the costume on and I walked onto the set, and what was around me was wonderfully, magically childlike...Being in a Star Wars world was gloriously euphoric for me.

Nyong'o: I was in a bit of a daze for the first days. I was doing (motion capture) so that was a whole other world of trying to figure out what on earth was going on. But a few days in, I was on set and I had just a moment when I looked around and it was the hugest set I've ever been on and it's like my mind exploded for a moment.

How was the audition process like?

Nyong'o: Shortly after the Oscars, I was in Morocco doing a photo shoot. I got an e-mail from my agent saying (director) J.J. Abrams wants to talk to me. I had a conversation with him and he told me a little bit about Maz Kanata. He sent a script to Morocco for me to read. I had about two hours to quickly go through it and decide. I called him back and said I'm interested.

Christie: I was like a dog with a bone about this. As soon as I heard there was going to be a Star Wars project, I said to my agent, 'I want to be in that.' She said, 'Of course, so does everybody.' And then it just sort of got to the stage where I would be sent e-mails about other possible jobs and I'd say, 'I want to be in Star Wars.'

And then eventually the poor person was quite worn down and rang the casting director who, very luckily, had cast me in Game Of Thrones.

I was actually in New York for the Season 3 premiere of Game Of Thrones and then just before I left, I got a phone call saying you've got a meeting for Star Wars and I screamed very loudly.

Any anecdotes about meeting the original cast?

Christie: I was introduced to Harrison Ford and I had absolutely nothing. I couldn't speak and I had nothing of any interest to say and just made some noises, looked at the floor and then was sort of taken away, which was the best for everyone as I was quite overwhelmed by that.

There was an amazing moment at Comic-Con before we all went on stage and I saw Harrison and we were chatting and I said, 'You must be used to this', and he said, 'You are too, you just don't know it.' An incredible Yoda-like moment of wisdom.

Lupita, where is your Oscar and how has your life changed since you won it last year?

Nyong'o: In my house. It's on the shelf where it's not in your face. I keep the people closest to me closest and so I'm just more precious with who I get to spend time with because I don't have very much time. I'm very busy, so I think that's changed. My calendar has changed a lot.

Have you celebrated in any way?

Christie: I bought myself a BB-8 model. I was playing with it this morning... It's so cute, I love it. It's symbolic of so many things. It's wonderful because I have a relationship with it in a work context. And then that gorgeous tiny adorable lovely thing is just a little moment of playfulness and fun and celebration.

Nyong'o: While I was shooting, I went into a comic store in London and bought myself a little Stormtrooper, so I carry Thunder with me. That's something that's been giving me joy during this countdown period (to the movie's release).


UNDER COVER

It will not be Star Wars if you don't have actors playing iconic characters behind a mask of sorts.

Darth Maul (Ray Park)

Star Wars: Episode I - 
The Phantom Menace


Darth Vader (David Prowse)

Star Wars: Episodes IV to VI


Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch)

Star Wars: Episodes V & VI


C-3PO (Anthony Daniels)

Star Wars: Episodes I to VI & Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew)

Star Wars: Episodes III to VI & Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


R2-D2 (Kenny Baker)

Star Wars: Episodes I to VI

Star WarsUncategorisedLupita Nyong'oCaptain PhasmaGame of Thrones