Thandiwe Newton becomes the latest star to criticise Star Wars, questioning changes that weren’t in the original script of Solo.
Warning: contains a spoiler for 2018’s Solo
Of all the major film studios, Disney, with its family-friendly output, is the most protective of its image. And yet, over the last three of four years, it seems to have developed a problem regarding key franchise players openly criticising the company or its movies. Scarlett Johansson is perhaps the highest-profile recent example, as her legal action against the company continues to rumble. But we’ve also seen Mark Hamill and John Boyega use their platforms to criticise aspects of the Star Wars films that they have appeared in too.
Boyega’s issue was the way in which first black lead character in a Star Wars film was treated, and now, Thandiwe Newton has made similar comments, criticising the way that the franchise treated the saga’s first prominent black female character.
Newton appeared in the Star Wars spin-off, Solo, which underwent a directorial change midway through production, with Phil Lord and Chris Miller being ousted and replaced by Ron Howard. The eventual film received tepid reviews and managed underwhelming box office numbers. What’s more, one of its actors, Newton, is far from satisfied about her treatment on set.
Speaking to Inverse about her new film, the Hugh Jackman-headlined Reminiscence, Newton revealed that her Solo character, Val, was not originally supposed to die on-screen, saying: “I felt disappointed by Star Wars that my character was killed. And, actually, in the script, she wasn’t killed. It happened during filming. 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”.
In a similar vein to Boyega’s stinging comments, Newton clarifies that she personally wasn’t disappointed not to be able to return to the Star Wars universe, but rather, the way in which the production had dealt with the series’ first black female character was highly questionable.
As she puts it: “that’s what it originally was: that the explosion and she falls out and you don’t know where she’s gone. 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. But I remembered at the time thinking, ‘This is a big, big mistake’ – not because of me, not because I wanted to come back. You don’t kill off the first black woman to ever have a real role in a Star Wars movie. Like, are you f—ing joking?”
Whilst nobody from Disney will be responding to this, it’s a PR problem that continues to bubble away as stars openly criticise the films they appear in. Big screen Star Wars still has a lot of work to do.
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