Seriously, who the heck is this guy?
Spoilers for The Force Awakens follow.
Episode VII opens with a meeting between Poe Dameron and a mysterious figure played by Max von Sydow (identified in the closing credits and non-film material as Lor San Tekka). As we soon find out, Poe is on the hunt for Luke Skywalker, and Lor has the only way to find him: an ancient data storage unit that contains one half of a starmap.
But just who exactly is this guy, and why did Luke entrust such a valuable piece of information to him?
We don’t have a lot to go on in the film, as Lor is killed by Kylo Ren just minutes after first meet him. However, the quickly expanding Star Wars canon has a given us a few clues as to who he is, and why he is so important.
In his youth, Lor was an explorer of the remote edges of the galaxy. He was born during the age of the Republic, and witnessed the Jedi Order before the Clone Wars and subsequent purge. Having seen their exploits firsthand, he never believed the propaganda that called them traitors.
During the reign of Emperor Palpatine, Lor became a member of the Church of the Force, an underground, quasi-religious movement that followed the tenets of the old Jedi Order. Imperial law at the time forbade religious or supernatural beliefs (somewhat ironically, given Palpatine’s hidden nature as a Sith Lord), which often put Lor at odds with the Empire.
In the decades following the fall of the Empire and formation of the New Republic, he became an invaluable source of information to the newly formed government, as retreating Imperial forces would often destroy records on the planets that they were about to abandon. He first crossed paths with Luke Skywalker shortly after the Battle of Endor, assisting him with recovering ancient Jedi archives that the Empire had tried to bury.
Whatever adventures they had together must have had a big impact on Luke, as he entrusted his location (well, half of it anyways) to Lor before going into a self-imposed exile.
After decades of exploration and travel, Lor eventually retired to the village of Tuanul on Jakku, living amongst other members of the Church of the Force. It’s here that Poe Dameron seeks him out at the behest of Leia Organa, in his search for information on Luke Skywalker. That’s unfortunately where Lor’s story ends, although the artifact he gives to Poe is the impetus for the events of The Force Awakens.
It’s unknown whether or not Max von Sydow will reprise the role in a Star Wars Anthology film, or a flashback sequence in Episode VIII, but it seems very likely that Lor will at least show up in future novels, comics, or games. After all, we’ve only barely begun to scratch the surface of the 30 year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and it sounds like Lor was a pretty big piece of that hidden history.