It seems that there are more women in the Star Wars universe after all. Disney and Lucasfilm announced Monday that Lupita Nyong'o and Gwendoline Christie are joining actresses Carrie Fisher and newcomer Daisy Ridley as part of the cast for Star Wars: Episode VII.
Hot off her Oscar win for best supporting performance in 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o has long been rumored for a part, and today she posted to her Instagram account, “I can finally say it out loud and proud: I’m going to a galaxy far far away!”
And Gwendoline Christie, currently starring as Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s series Game of Thrones, and next seen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 has also been added to the ensemble cast.
“I could not be more excited about Lupita and Gwendoline joining the cast of Episode VII,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said on the official Star Wars website. “It’s thrilling to see this extraordinarily talented ensemble taking shape.”
What roles the two women will be playing aren’t known, but the addition of not one but two new females addresses earlier complaints from fans about gender bias and the lack of female characters in the film’s cast which was announced in April. It’s a point of contention that has not gone unnoticed over the years. In Family Guy’s famed double-episode parody, “It’s A Trap” (2011), the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi appears to Luke and explains that his sibling is Princess Leia, “the only God-damn woman in the galaxy.” In 2013, Wired’s Laura Hudson wrote, ”there’s no reason new Star Wars movies can’t aspire to achieve what the Extended Universe already has: a world where the other half of the human race is not only visible to movie-goers of all genders and ages, but equally capable of astonishing and inspiring feats of heroism.” All that’s been confirmed so far is that Episode VII will take place approximately 30 years after Return of the Jedi, and will focus on a new trio of young leads. But it seems Star Wars fans and movie-goers, alike, have been heard and are getting their wish.
“I have other generals, I shoot guns and behave like a soldier. It’s almost a male sort of thing. Well, I am the only girl in an all-male-made movie. Sometimes I would say to them, ‘How about a big cooking scene, baking some space food, or how about me sewing my costume back together? A shopping scene, maybe a mall planet? Give me a girl friend and we’ll talk about how cute Han is.’ There are no moments where Leia is stereotypically female.” ―Carrie Fisher on Princess Leia, Starlog Magazine, May 1983
Why did the casting announcements of these women come later than the initial rollout? The Washington Post posed: “We can only hope that it was for good reason — like Nyong’o negotiating for the salary she deserves after her Oscar, or Christie negotiating a Game of Thrones filming schedule that will allow her a prominent part in both projects — rather than because [J.J.] Abrams was lukewarm on both women.” Lucasfilm has not said whether this means that the core cast has been locked, or whether more actors may yet be cast.
The Force is strong with these bold additions to an already impressive lineup. Nyong’o and Christie join original trilogy stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Peter Mayhew. New additions include Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and the iconic Max von Sydow. J.J. Abrams is directing from a script he co-wrote with Lawrence Kasdan. Kathleen Kennedy, Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the saga’s composer.
Disney promised three new installments in George Lucas’ six-film saga after purchasing Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.05 billion. They also plan to release Star Wars spinoff films that are considered stand-alones from the saga. Star Wars: Episode VII opens worldwide on December 18, 2015.
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Images: Fox Searchlight Pictures, HBO