J.J. Abrams Based This Character From The Force Awakens on a Real Person

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In an interview with a local paper from his hometown, J.J. Abrams recently revealed that the character of Maz Kanata was actually based on someone who had inspired him as a high school student–his late English teacher:

Yes, the character of Maz was originally based on the great Rose Gilbert. We really wanted the story to feel authentic, despite being a wild fantasy. I mentioned Rose in an early story meeting as a sort of timeless, wise figure that I’d actually known in my life.

Gilbert had been teaching at Abrams’ former high school in Los Angeles, California since its opening in 1961 until her retirement at the age of 94 in 2013. Abrams also shared that Rick Carter, the production designer on The Force Awakens had also been a student of Gilbert’s, and the two of them had hoped to contact Gilbert in order to show her the character she had helped to inspire. Unfortunately, Gilbert passed away in December 2013 before that could happen.

While the overall look of Maz Kanata went through many different concept versions, the final side-by-side comparison is pretty undeniable:


With that in mind, Maz Kanata takes on a new and special meaning–a respectful dedication to the memory of a former teacher in a character who motivates and encourages the younger fictional generation of Star Wars.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image via The Palisadian-Post)

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