The story of the Star Wars saga and racial diversity is one that is long and complicated, and has been a topic over the years of everything from academic dissertations to online thinkpieces to humorous Kevin Smith movie monologues. The issue was also made with the release of the prequels, when the films were accused of employing racist stereotypes with such characters as Jar Jar Binks and Watto.
With the latest, Disney-controlled run of Star Wars movies, the issue has come up again, but with regard to the new films embracing a much more racially diverse cast. And now, a member of the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story cast has weighed in on just how important it is for films set in a universe as diverse as Star Wars to reflect that by having an equally diverse cast.
Speaking at the Hollywood premiere of Rogue One over the weekend, actor Diego Luna shared his thoughts on the new film with Variety. Luna spoke about the casting of the film and the importance of the message it sends to those watching. According to Luna:
“It’s a clear message what this rebel group sends… By leaving differences aside, we can be stronger. By celebrating our differences and understanding that those differences make us richer and stronger and more powerful we can do whatever we want, you know? There is no limits. It’s a beautiful film about unity and celebration.”
Luna’s comments, which echo various statements made in recent weeks by both executives and creative talent associated with Star Wars, speaks to the idea that the franchise is headed to a more inclusive place — which is all the more important considering just how popular and enduring the saga has proven to be. Representation matters in popular culture. The Force Awakens certainly told its story with a diverse cast, and in doing so gave the next two sequels some terrific new characters, like Rey, Finn, and of course, Poe Dameron.
With the news that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is tracking for an impressive opening weekend abroad as well as domestically, it would seem that the franchise’s recent efforts with regard to its casting have paid off. The box office receipts for The Force Awakens set records, and while this first entry in the theatrical anthology series has its work cut out for it in terms of beating those numbers, it’s a sure bet that its sense of inclusivity will only increase its appeal.