Thandie Newton recently spoke about Star Wars and its lack of diversity and said it's “extraordinary” it’s taken the world-famous franchise 10 movies to cast a woman of color in a leading role (Note: Definitely have to mention Rose Tico, who was played by Kelly Marie Tran in Star Wars: The Last Jedi).
“I felt excited that I could let go of my own personal resentment and frustration and feeling of hopelessness, frankly,” she said, per Page Six. “I just felt like celebrating every single day, and that celebration kind of was reflected in the way the movie felt because it was such a great experience working alongside that cast.”
While we haven’t seen Solo: A Star Wars Story yet, as its debut will take place next month at the Cannes Film Festival, there’s a definite sense of diversity represented in the new Star Wars films released since J.J. Abrams revived the franchise with The Force Awakens in 2015. Even then, to cast John Boyega in a lead role felt, frankly, brave and unexpected of a major studio, in an environment where actors are routinely cast based on the color of their skin.
Newton, who plays a mysterious character named Val in the upcoming Han Solo Star Wars spin-off, which is a prequel detailing the Solo’s early years as a bandit and smuggler. It’s this spirit of rebellion, in Newton’s mind, that makes this film—and its off-screen efforts—so prescient. “It felt brand new,” she said. “We were pirates, you know what I mean? It had that vibe of just rebels out there and that’s kind of what I feel like, because in order to break glass ceilings, you kind of got to be a rebel. Rebels get shit done.”
As for the person who brought the entire world a reinvigorated franchise, Newton has nothing but praise for Abrams, who also produces Westworld, which stars Newton. “J.J. Abrams really started the conversation by casting John Boyega,” she said. “I know it was really down to J.J. Abrams that John had that prominent role and it really started it going…I’m just so grateful to him. He’s a single individual and what he’s doing in cinema is unprecedented. I wish it wasn’t unprecedented, but it is.”