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Here’s what the cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi had to say about women in the film

Yesterday in Los Angeles, I attended the Star Wars: The Last Jedi press conference. I’ve been a little quiet on the site lately, but this is Star Wars, and there was no way I was missing it! I’ll have a full report for you soon, but this was too meaningful to me and to the site to wait for the week of opening. During the conference, I asked about the women in The Last Jedi. Here is what the cast said.

The question was this: “There are way more female characters in this movie, certainly more than in the first three movies. That’s going to mean a lot to little girls. I want to know what it means to you guys.

Daisy Ridley who plays Rey said, “When I [first] got involved, I knew it was a big deal, but the response was so beyond anything I could have imagined. It was only after that I was like, oh, yeah. It’s not like I ever too it for granted or anything, but it was so monumental, the response and how people felt about it.” She continued, saying that it was not about her being a girl. These are just “great characters.”

Kelly Marie Tran who plays Rose agreed, saying, “It feels like both an honor and a responsibility at the same time.” She said, “And the girls in this movie kick some butt. Every single one is so good!” Laura Dern who plays Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo said that director Rian Johnson was “one of the most subversive filmmakers” in that he allowed her to remain feminine as well as strong in the look of her character. “To see a powerful female character also be feminine is something that moves away from the stereotype that sometimes is perceived,” she said, talking about how strong women are often “like the boys.”

Here's what the cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi had to say about women in the film

Gwendoline Christie who plays Captain Phasma added, “I was so delighted. I wasn’t yet cast in the first Star Wars film when I heard about casting [referring to Rey]. And I was utterly delighted to see that there was a more representative selection of actors that were gong to be in this incredible Star Wars film. And that has continued. And everything that my amazing colleagues say is absolutely right. You get to see women that are not big and strong, just because they’re acting like men. They’re doing something else and you’re seeing a developed character, or at least a developing character that’s showing some complex character traits. I’m just delighted about that.” She said it was wonderful that the character make up reflects what the make up of the world actually is.

Moderator and Star Wars expert Anthony Breznican from EW followed up later in the press conference by asking about Carrie Fisher and her character Princess Leia’s influence on the cast. “She was very significant, because I was first shown A New Hope when I was 6, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that character’s really different. She’s really interesting. She’s really smart, she’s really funny, she’s courageous, she’s bold. She doesn’t care what people think, and she isn’t prepared to be told what to do. That was instrumental to someone like me, as someone who didn’t feel like she fit that homogenized view of what a woman should be. You can be an individual and celebrate yourself and be successful without giving yourself over. Without necessarily giving yourself over and make ing a terrible, huge compromise.” She also spoke about how much it meant to her that her costume wasn’t announcing her gender. She said, “Her femininity wasn’t delineated in terms of the shape of her body. In terms of  her physical attractiveness. Those elements, that weird, random group of elements that we’re born with in some sort of odd lottery and that we’re judged on in society. And I was just delighted to have that opportunity.”

Dern said, “People speak about people who are brave or fearless, but beyond that, I’ve known, luckily, a few people that would hold those descriptions, but not that they would be without shame. And that’s what moved me the most about the icon she gave us, but also what she gave us individually and personally, which was Carrie.”

Ridley spoke about Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd, and how she’s continuing the legacy of her mother. “Billie is, I think, all of those qualities. She’s smart and funny and shameless, and I think Carrie bringing up a 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 that speaks volumes to what she did, her in the spotlight.”

Tran spoke about Carrie as a person. “Something about Carrie that I really look up to and that I didn’t realize until recently was how much courage it takes to be yourself when you’re on a public platform. She was so unapologetic and so openly herself, and that is something that I’ve tried to do, but that’s hard. I think she will always be an icon as Leia, but also as Carrie. What an example.”

Finally, Andy Serkis talked about the influence of women in the Star Wars universe and how his character Snoke felt about that. He laughed that the women were a threat to his evil empire and that this shouldn’t be allowed to continue. Brezincan joked that this was “Snoke-splaining.”

Are you guys excited for Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Let us know in the comments. The film hits theaters on December 15! Stay tuned for more!

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Jenna Busch

Jenna Busch is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Legion of Leia and has hosted and written for sites like Nerdist, ComingSoon.net, Metro, Birth. Movies. Death., IGN, AOL, Huffington Post and more. She co-hosted Cocktails With Stan with the legendary Stan Lee and has appeared on Attack of the Show, Fresh Ink, Tabletop with Wil Wheaton, in the documentary She Makes Comics, on NPR and Al Jazeera America, and has covered film/TV/gaming/comics for years. She’s currently a co-host on Most Craved. She’s been published in the comics anthology Womanthology, is a chapter author for Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind, Game of Thrones Psychology and Star Trek Psychology and more, and owns a terrifying amount of swords and 20-sided dice. There are also those My Little Pony trailer voice overs that give one nightmares.

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