What You Need To Know About StarWars: The Force Awakens

As “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, the seventh film in the series, premiers, we explore movie influences,  new character names and design of the costumes.

The  Star Wars Force Awakens cast include Carrie Fisher as Leia,  Daisy Ridley as Rey, Adam Driver  as Kylo Ren, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata,  Harrison Ford as Han Solo, John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron and Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma.   The movie is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan.  JJ Abrams Directed and produced the film.

30 years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat rises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of Heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.




Star Wars: The Force Awakens Movie Influences

All the movies of Akira Kurosawa have influenced The Force Awakens screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan throughout his  career. According to Kasdan, “Akira was sort of the Shakespeare of cinema, he did comedies, he did action films, he did Shakespearean drama, and all of life is contained in each one of his films.” “Seven Samurai may be the greatest film ever made, it’s a personal drama, it’s an action picture.”  he said.    When JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan were preparing for the movie they also kept referring to great American movies that they loved and things that had influenced the first Star Wars which is Howard Hawks, John Ford and Flash Gordon. According to Lawrence Kasdan, “when George [Lucas] made A New Hope, he was influenced very much by Kurosawa, and by Flash Gordon, and by the Wizard of Oz and that all those movies, you can feel them in A New Hope, and everything that’s in A New Hope has come down through the movies, to this day.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens New Character Names

When it came to naming the new characters of the Force Awakens, the character names for Finn,  Poe and Rey had the most iterations.   According to JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, ” A lot of names came and went, and some names stuck. When we put down BB-8, it was a name that – it was the first and only name that droid ever had, but we called him BB-8 and we still do. Rey and Finn and Poe went through many [naming] iterations. Kylo Ren was Kylo Ren fairly early on, and there was a sort of backstory. Maz Kanata was always Maz Kanata.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Costumes

JJ Abrams and cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens  shared a lot of insight into costumes designed by Michael Kaplan.   Michael Kaplan has a long history of working on multiple films including Star Trek: Sorcerer’s Apprentice,  Flashdance, Pearl Harbor and I am Legend. Michael Kaplan has won awards for his designs on Blade Runner and nominations for costume designs for Mr & Mrs. Smith and Fight Club.

JJ Abrams  said, “The costumes are  extraordinary and unlike anything we have seen for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The most difficult costume was Kylo Ren which has thousands of iterations before final costume.”



Kylo Ren Costume portrayed by Adam Driver (Photo Credit: Eva Smith)

Kylo Ren Costume portrayed by Adam Driver (Photo Credit: Eva Smith)

When they finally saw the mask at the beginning of design it was clear it was the winner.

Captain Phasma costume (Photo credit: Eva Smith)


The Captain Phasma costume was originally pitched as a Kylo Ren costume, and turned out to be  the greatest-looking costumes as well as JJ Abrams favorite costume.  According to Abrams, the character for Captain Phasma was originally a role for a male, but turned out to become a role for a woman.   The Helmet is made of Chrome vaccum- 3D printed nylon.   The cape is made of Cotton Canvas coated and painted with binder.   The armor was designed with Chrome vacuum-plated molded polyurethane.   The Under suit is made of cotton lycra.  The boots are made with chrome vacuum-platedpolyurethane over leather.    The Gussets are made with molded rubber and cotton lycra and the gloves are made with rubber.

Costumes: Finn and Rey (Photo Credit: Eva Smith)

The amount of time to prepare for their roles varied by actor and the complexity of the costume.  Daisy Riddle costume took about 20 minutes as the arms things on and wraps  for Rey takes a while.



Costume: Rey (Photo Credit: Eva Smith)


When Adam Driver originally prepared for his role it took about an hour and a half to complete his costume for Kylo Ren.  Eventually his team was able to take it down to 20 minutes.

Lupita Nyongo’o’s character Maz Kanata didn’t have a costume as her character is a motion capture character.   To get suited up for the character it took about  two and half hours, maybe three. And then by the end we had it down to about an hour or an hour 15.     Lupita’s character had dots everywhere, including her teeth.  She is still finding them in everything including her shoes. Motion capture, also referred to Mo-cap for short is the process of recording the movement of objects or people.  In filmmaking and video game development it refers to recording actions of human actors and using the information to animate a digital character in 2D or 3D computer animation.

Star Wars:  The Force Awakens premiers in theaters worldwide on December 18th.  Follow the conversation at STAR WARS on Facebook or the STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS website.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens Movie Trailer







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