With only 28 days to go until The Last Jedi, TIME magazine spoke with two of the soon to be popular female characters from the film. Here's a brief snippet featuring Kelly Marie Tran, and Laura Dern.
Whether Holdo and Rose prove to be good or evil, or funny or stoic, their inclusion in The Last Jedi affirms Disney’s determination to make the Star Wars universe look more like our own. When A New Hope premiered in 1977, Leia was the only female hero. And though she upended stereotypes about princesses–the so-called damsel in distress seized a blaster from Han Solo and shot down Stormtroopers herself–Fisher lamented having little female company on set. The new movies feature female heroes and villains, from Rey to the evil Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). “[Producer] Kathleen Kennedy’s mantra is ‘strong female characters,'” says Dern. That’s surprisingly rare. When Dern won an Emmy for HBO’s Big Little Lies this year, she joked in her acceptance speech, “I’ve been acting since I was 11 years old, and I think I’ve worked with maybe 12 women.”
And Tran is the first major Asian female character in the Star Wars universe. Asian actors rarely get to play supporting roles–let alone a hero–in big-budget Hollywood movies. “When I was growing up, I didn’t see anyone like me in movies. And I wanted to be white for the longest time, because I thought that meant my story would be valid,” she says. “When you’re a kid, you see images on TV and on billboards and in magazines–they all look the same, and you wonder, ‘Why don’t I look like that? And can I change myself to look like that?'”
Tran says her casting in Star Wars represents a shift in the industry, though it may take a few more years for other studios to catch up. She takes the opportunity seriously. Despite having trepidations about social media, she recently decided to join Instagram. “I was afraid of being picked apart,” she says. “Being able to fail anonymously is such a luxury. But I realized that if I am in this franchise, I have to have a voice, and that includes speaking out on social media.” One of Tran’s first posts came on Halloween: she and a friend dressed up as porgs, the adorable puffin-like creatures featured in the new film.
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