Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduced Rey (Daisy Ridley), an empowering female character for the new generation. The sequel, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, introduces more female characters on both the light and dark side of The Force.
Laura Dern plays Admiral Holdo of the Resistance.
“In the case of the look of my character, I was moved by the fact that [director Rian Johnson] really wanted her strength to first lead with a very deep femininity,” Dern said. “To see a powerful female character also be feminine is something that moved away from stereotypes that sometimes perceived strong female characters must be like the boys. I thought that was a really interesting choice.”
Kelly Marie Tran joins the cast as Resistance fighter Rose Tico.
“It feels like both an honor and a responsibility at the same time,” Tran said. “I feel like from the beginning, when I initially found out I got this role, I just felt like I wanted to do the whole thing justice. The girls in this movie kick some butt.”
Gwendoline Christie returns as Captain Phasma of the First Order.
“I was very excited when I was shown just the basic costume,” Christie said. “Here we were seeing a character whereby her femininity was not delineated in terms of the shape of her body and in terms of her physical attractiveness, those elements, that weird random group of elements which we’re born with.”
And of course, Rey is back. It looks like she’s training with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on an island, whether he likes it or not.
“I think what’s great about everyone is it’s not like she’s a girl, this is a guy,” Ridley said. “Everyone is just great characters but happily falling into broader categories now.”
Costars enjoyed the strength of their female castmates too.
“As a guy, I’d like to say that for me, the most formative people in my life have been women,” Oscar Isaac said. “So that has shaped my destiny so much. To see that reflected in the film is really a beautiful thing and it is important to reflect what’s happening out there, what’s always happened. They’re the ones who shape you.”
Star Wars’ original heroine, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), remains in The Last Jedi as Fisher completed filming before her death. Her castmates represented Fisher the weeks before The Last Jedi’s release.
“We always have Carrie, not just Leia,” Dern said. “People speak about people who are brave or fearless but not that they would be without shame. That’s what moved me the most about the icon she gave us but also what she gave us individually and personally which is to carry who she was so directly and to be without shame and to share her story and expect nothing less from any of us.”
In The Force Awakens, Ridley was where Fisher was upon the release of Star Wars: A New Hope. Tran is now entering Star Wars territory in The Last Jedi.
“Something about Carrie that I really look up to, and something I didn’t realize until recently was just how much courage it takes to truly be yourself when you’re on a public platform and when people are looking at you,” Tran said. “To be so empathetic and so open yourself is something I really try to do. What an example. I’m so fortunate to have met her and I think she will really live on forever.”
Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, is also in the new Star Wars trilogy and will presumably continue to Episode IX.
“Carrie’s daughter Billie is I think all of those qualities,” Ridley said. “She’s smart and funny and shameless and wonderful. I think Carrie bringing up her daughter who is all of those qualities and then some in this world, if that’s what she did just her being her, I think it speaks volumes to what she did as her in this world and also her and Leia.”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters December 15.