When it came to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, keeping the look of Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) a secret was partially due to unfinished visual effects and partially due to director J.J. Abrams’ love of the “mystery box”. Maz snuck onto the poster, but unless you’ve seen The Force Awakens in theaters, you haven’t seen Snoke.
And all of that build up was a bit underwhelming. We were hoping for some truly imaginative designs that necessitated the use of full-motion capture, but instead, Maz is just a play on Yoda, and Snoke is like a CGI version of the Emperor with a design so rudimentary that I was left to wonder why they didn’t just go with special effects makeup for the First Order’s big bad.
EW has now released official images of Maz and Snoke, and the outlet spoke with Nyong’o and Serkis about playing the characters. Nyong’o says she got some tips on how to do motion capture from Serkis, and explained, “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.”
For Serkis, he revealed this was the first time he had ever taken on a mo-cap character without being 100% sure what they looked like. “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,” said Serkis.
Serkis also believes that the character’s scarred visage would have been impossible to do with make-up:
“The scale of him, for instance, is one reason,” Serkis said. “He 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.]”
And yet it sounds like this interview was done before the film was released because when you look at Snoke, his bone and facial structure doesn’t seem so idiosyncratic that talented makeup artists like Rick Baker or Greg Nicotero couldn’t work their magic to create something unique and more visceral. Instead, Snoke looks dated from the moment he comes on screen, and that’s a shame.