J.J. Abrams' infamous mystery box has been in full force in the months leading up to the theatrical premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As far as official bits of information go, we've learned what Lucasfilm wants us to know, when they want us to know. That extends to the full names of key characters, some of which have yet to be revealed yet.
Force Awakens cast member Max von Sydow, however, is playing a character whose name remains firmly under-wraps (and has yet to appear in any trailer footage). There've been various rumors about the character's identity in the past - and now, we can add even more to the pile.
Making Star Wars is reporting that von Sydow is portraying a character named Lor San Tekka, an elder in a village on the desert planet Jakku. Though his role in the film is brief, Tekka appears to be a very important individual in the galaxy far, far away. He apparently has vital information about where the missing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is. Furthermore, MSW reports that Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) travels to Jakku to meet Tekka and uncover this mystery.
For what it's worth, this does play in line with what we've heard before. A rumored opening sequence from months ago saw Tekka (then referred to as "The Vicar") contact the Resistance after a Jakku villager named Nakka discovered a lightsaber that had fallen from the sky. Then, at the 2015 Star Wars Celebration, Isaac revealed that Dameron is sent on a mission "by a certain princess" as the film begins. From that, it would seem that Dameron (along with his droid BB-8) are sent to Jakku to not only retrieve the lightsaber, but gain valuable intel on the whereabouts of Leia's (Carrie Fisher) long-lost brother.
For some time now, Jedi Master (Luke) Skywalker has been rumored to be AWOL when Force Awakens begins, either out of fear for controlling his own power or to protect an ancient Sith tomb from being opened. Everyone has their own theories on what's become of Skywalker, but regardless of what drove him away, all signs are pointing towards him being separated from other characters by the time Abrams' film picks up.
Another longtime rumor Luke has a smaller role in Force Awakens, setting him up for a larger role in Rian Johnson's Episode VIII. As disappointing as this possibility may be for longtime fans, Hamill had cautioned that Force Awakens focus more on the younger characters anyway - and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) still looks to be a main player in the narrative. Seeing Hamill back as Luke is exciting, but it will be better if Abrams fits the character organically into the story (instead of forcing too much on him for nostalgia's sake).
In the meantime, Tekka (if that really is his name) may have strong ties to our heroes, but the nature of that relationship is unclear. There are still some books in the "Journey to The Force Awakens" series that need to be published, so perhaps one of those will better flesh out his backstory.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Making Star Wars