Over the last couple of days we’ve learned and seen quite a bit from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, including several new photos and details on Princess (or not) Leia, Rey’s background, the First Order Stormtroopers and, earlier today, intel on Andy Serkis’ mysterious, villainous Snoke. As promised, we have even more details regarding a couple of important characters in the film, and we’re closer to answering everyone’s favorite question: Where’s Luke Skywalker?

Entertainment Weekly continued releasing coverage from its huge double-issue Star Wars edition, strategically unveiling new features on various characters over the last couple of days. First things first, let’s deal with the mystery surrounding Luke Skywalker and his absence from the film’s marketing. Mark Hamill wouldn’t disclose much, though he did say it’s been difficult to be so secretive, especially when talking to kids, “Because they don’t understand non-disclosure agreements.”

Director J.J. Abrams was able to offer a bit more in terms of Luke’s place in The Force Awakens, with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy suggesting that we’re asking the wrong question — it’s not where is Luke Skywalker, but who is Luke Skywalker.

In the most recent trailer, Han Solo tells Finn and Rey that all the stories about the Jedi and the dark side are true, implying that they’ve been raised to believe these stories are mere fiction. According to Abrams, the younger generation views Luke, Leia and Han “as mythic as the tale of King Arthur.” As for how Rey perceives things, Abrams says:

To someone who is living alone and struggling without a formal education or support system, who knows what that person in the literal middle of nowhere would have ever heard about any of these things, or would ever know, and how much that person would have to infer and piece together on their own. So the idea that someone like that would begin to learn that the Jedi were real, and that the Force exists, and that there’s a power in the universe that sounds fanciful but is actually possible, was an incredibly intriguing notion.

Finn has a different perspective, having been raised in the First Order of Stormtroopers to believe that Luke is real — and he’s bad. John Boyega explains:

For Finn, he’s been raised from the ashes of the Empire. He’s been taught about Luke Skywalker, he knows about his history. For him it’s like joining the army and then learning about one of the great enemies of your country. It has that effect on him. But in terms of the Force, and the magical stuff that happens, that is the point where Finn kind of questions what is what. What is the Force, what part does Luke Skywalker play in all of this?

So that doesn’t exactly answer the question “Where’s Luke?” but it does shed a little light on his role in The Force Awakens. There’s one more character we’ve been eager to know more about: Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata, an alien pirate featured on the official poster wearing large goggles, her voice heard in the most recent trailer (speaking that line about souls and eyes). Abrams offers this description:

Her history is that she was a pirate for a long time. She’s 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.

You know, like a certain cantina, perhaps. Abrams explains that he came up with the goggles, and adds that her eyes “are an important aspect of her character.” Maz Kanata was originally conceived as a puppet, but Abrams soon realized she needed to be performance-captured. Lucky for Nyong’o, mo-cap expert Andy Serkis is her co-star in the film, and she says he offered her some valuable advice:

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.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18.

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