‘Star Wars Episode VII’ Smartly Adds More Women To Cast

    June 15, 2014
    Rachel Kolman
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It was announced earlier this month that two new actresses would be added to the cast of the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII: the Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o and Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie. While their roles haven’t been revealed, the Internet collectively rejoiced at the addition to more females to the male-dominated cast.

As it stands, there are fifteen announced cast members for Episode VII (three of them being original trilogy stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill). Lupita and Gwendoline join Daisy Ridley as the three new females. While we can only speculate on their importance (there’s a wide rumor that Nyong’o will play a mixed-race granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi), many are hoping that they won’t be mere side characters, simply cast as wives or girlfriends or daughters. Christie, who already portrays a warrior on Game of Thrones, would most likely feel more at home wielding a lightsaber than a saucepan.

“It counts for something that this new Star Wars trilogy may well have three times as many female characters of note as the first two trilogies did,” Scott Mendelson writes for Forbes. “When you have a film with more than one female character, then the defining character trait of each respective female character doesn’t have to be that she is female.”

Mendelson stresses how important this diversity can be. More females in the cast means that there’s more likelihood for a female heroine, or even a female villain. “The new Star Wars film could possibly be not explicitly male-centric in its narrative,” Mendelson speculates, which is noteworthy. When most cinema is still dominated by men, and females are either foils to the plot or used like chess pieces, it’s enough to know that that will most likely not be the case in the new Star Wars.

“It matters when girls who love Star Wars have more than one female character to potentially latch onto,” Mendelson says. “It’s not a game-changer per-se, but it’s a good start.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

  • http://www.korioi.blogspot.com Korios

    Lupita was stunning in “12 years a slave” but .. less than decorative in Non-stop. She wasn’t even the lead air-stewardess. Contracted right before her success I suppose.

  • Aleric

    Let me help the writer of this article “Abrahms shoe horns in more females to try and reach a demographic that doesn’t exist”.

    • Rachel Kolman

      a demographic of women wanting stronger and more diverse female leads most definitely exists.

      • Aleric

        Abrahms likes to put women into roles whether they need them or not and his butchering of Star Trek shows how he handles a franchise.

    • John T.

      No, people were just too impatient and ignored their statement that new cast members were yet to be announced. Nyongo was rumored for a couple of months, as were a couple of lesser-known actresses.

      Still, it’s a movie series about soldiers, knights, bounty hunters, smugglers…why shouldn’t it be a male-heavy cast? Haven’t those roles been overwhelmingly male in real life, throughout history? No one complained about Saving Private Ryan having an all-male cast. Much ado about nothing.

      • Aleric

        I agree but for some reason Disney and Hollywood like to put people into parts they aren’t suited for to try and fill a vacuum instead of doing what the canon needs. Do I think there should be strong female roles in Star Wars, of course, do I think they will make roles simply to put boobs on the screen, damn right.

        • John T.

          Most action movie writers seem to think that “strong female character” just means a woman acting masculine. Think Katie Sackoff’s character in the Riddick movie, or Trinity, or GI Jane, or the villain one from Man of Steel. Usually the same common cliches with the short hair, tank top (or goofy boob armor), and they’re sure to beat up a dude at some point just to drive the point home. But they’re just shallow nothing characters for the most part and it usually comes off phony.

          Murphy Brown, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Clarice Starling, the President from Battlestar Galactica, all take more work and thought. If you’re not going to bother giving female characters any depth (especially warrior types) then what good is it doing any supposed cause?

          Every day I see a dozen commercials aimed at women which represent a dopey husband or boyfriend. That’s hot in advertising lately. Any guys getting offended about that? No. Most probably don’t even notice.

          My suggestion to those who aren’t satisfied with the roles (and types of roles) given to women in film: choose your movies more carefully. 50% of moviegoers are women here in the US, and they’re not all watching Hunger Games.

          • Aleric

            That’s the problem with the new Star Wars movies, Abrahms doesn’t know how to fill roles with strong female leads who also have the ability to portray the character. Lawrence Kasden will write a good story, but the transition from story to film will make or break it. With Disney, and Lucas, yes he will be involved no matter what he and Disney has said, putting their fingers in the mix it will poison it in time.

          • Paul

            Actually there are a LOT of men offended by the dopey guy trope.