Star Wars takes place in a galaxy far, far away, but it still is trouble by Earth’s biggest problem, the treatment of actors of color.
Thandiwe Newton is the latest Black thespian to call out the iconic sci-fi film franchise’s handling of Black, Brown, and Asian characters in the films. Solo: A Star Wars Story already owns the title of being the lowest-grossing Star Wars film, and now it will be known as the film that killed off Thandiwe Newton’s character for no reason at all.
Speaking with Inverse in an interview published on Wednesday (Aug.25), Newton revealed she was “disappointed” with how her character was handled in the movie that served as the origin story of smuggler turned reluctant hero of the rebellion Han Solo. The Emmy-winning actress was the first Black woman to have a major role in the franchise and played Val, who was unceremoniously killed off in the film.
“I felt disappointed by ‘Star Wars’ that my character was killed. And, actually, in the script, she wasn’t killed. It happened during filming,” she revealed to Inverse. “And it was much more just to do with the time we had to do the scenes. It’s much easier just to have me die than it is to have me fall into a vacuum of space so I can come back sometime.”
Newton also explained that her character’s fate was originally supposed to be left up to interpretation, but they subsequently decided to kill off her character midway through the movie.
“So I could have come back at some point. But when we came to filming, as far as I was concerned and was aware when it came to filming that scene, it was too huge a set-piece to create, so they just had me blow up, and I’m done,” she further states, seemingly confirming the rumors of some drama while making the movie.
“But I remembered at the time thinking, ‘This is a big, big mistake’ — not because of me, not because I wanted to come back,” Newton added. “You don’t kill off the first Black woman to ever have a real role in a ‘Star Wars movie. Like, are you fucking joking?”
Newton is not alone when it comes to beef with Star Wars. John Boyega, who starred in the last three movies that served as the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga, also voiced displeasure with how his character Finn’s story arc fell flat, claiming that Disney hoodwinked fans into believing his character and others like Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico were “much more important.”
In an article with British GQ, Boyega didn’t bite his tongue, stating, “Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver. You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran when it came to John Boyega, you know fuck all. They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.”
Following the release of the very polarizing final film The Rise of Skywalker, Disney has put the Star Wars film franchise on ice but has recovered nicely with Disney Plus original shows The Mandalorian, new episodes of the popular animated franchise The Clone Wars, and the recently released new animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
We the Disney machine ramps up production on new Star Wars films, we will be intrigued to see if they listened to the complaints of past Black actors to rectify their missteps.
Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Getty