Thandie Newton believes her Star Wars casting is a big deal, as she’s the first “woman of colour” to have a prominent role in the franchise.
Thandie has joined the sci-fi universe for upcoming spin-off Solo: A Star Wars Story, which tells the story of a young Han Solo, a part made famous by Harrison Ford and played by Alden Ehrenreich in the prequel.
While other black actresses, including Lupita Nyong’o, have previously appeared in Star Wars films, 45-year-old Thandie, who plays a character called Val in the movie, says it’s the size of her role that makes it so special.
“I’m the first woman of colour to have a prominent role in the Star Wars legacy,” she told Radio Times.
“There have been others with one line and Lupita Nyong’o was a computer-generated character (The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi), but you didn’t get to see the colour of her skin.
“I’m the first. I’m going to have a toy and everything. It’s exciting, but that’s all I can say. It is a big deal.”
The film is due out next month (May18), and will premiere at Cannes Film Festival before hitting cinemas around the world.
It was initially meant to be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, but they quit the project in June (17) over creative differences with Lucasfilm bosses. Ron Howard stepped in to the director’s chair, and Thandie has previously reassured fans the film is still “dope” despite the director shake-up.
Talking about the importance of sci-fi in cinema, the English actress said: “Sci-fi really captures people’s attention like nothing else, but the fans are absolutely bonkers.
“I took my four-year-old to a park in Los Angeles last year, but I didn’t realise there was a huge Star Wars convention taking place up the road. All these grown-up men dressed as Stormtroopers were riding around on a kids’ train in the park. It was the most surreal sight.”