When you look at films from back in the 70’s, it was rare to see much diversity in the casting. Most of the actors in films were usually Caucasian, and if they were anything other than that, then they would most likely be subject to a small supporting role. Nowadays though, that’s quite the opposite, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been the prime example of that in the media these days by having an African-American male and a female at the fore of a Star Wars film.
Ridley and Boyega sit down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss their characters, and the controversial public discussions that were inevitable due to their casting.
Ridley made this statement while speaking to EW:
“John and I had a conversation last year and we both knew that was how it was going to be. He was going to be the black guy and I was going to be the girl. I think neither of those things could ever be a bad thing.”
Later, speaking on her character Rey, she also says “My main thing is that people connect with her, regardless of gender, color, and age”. She also makes it clear that she doesn’t think of her character as a hero or heroine, but rather “A normal girl going on a journey.”
John Boyega, the one who was under fire the most about this due to the color of his skin, also touches on this subject:
“We see through the eyes of children that they’re not talking about race the way we grown folks are. They’re not talking about color or how much melanin is in someone’s skin. That should teach us something… We’ve been having a continuous struggle with idiots, and now we should just force them to understand – and I love the way I just used Force there, by the way – just force people to see this is the new world. There are loads of people of different shades and backgrounds. Get used to it.”
Very well said. Unfortunately, there were many less-enlightened folks on the internet who disagreed, and even started a hashtag on twitter to boycott the film all together. The hashtag was trending though, mostly due to those who were a bit more enlightened and were shooting it down.
It’s good to see that the stars of the upcoming Star Wars film haven’t let any of this negative feedback affect them in anyway. It’s also good to see that Hollywood is making it something of a duty to be more diverse and open to different casting options, but that’s mostly because the world doesn’t exactly see everything as “black and white” nowadays, so it makes sense that this movie can have a black male and a female as lead characters. And even Oscar Isaac- who plays Poe Dameron as another newcomer in the film- is of Guatemalan heritage, so they’re really branching out in terms of talent.
The Force Awakens director and co-writer J.J. Abrams told EW this in an interview:
“Writing this script with Larry Kasdan, I didn’t know what Rey was going to look like, I didn’t know what Finn or Poe would look like. I just knew that this movie needed to look the way the world looks.”
With such a talented group of people behind this massive project, it’d be a shame to miss it. Hopefully all of those that do see it enjoy each actor and character and continue to watch the films following suit.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is scheduled to release on December 18th, 2015