Fans of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” have a reason to celebrate as one of the film’s most interesting, albeit drastically under-used, villains is officially returning for the sequel. While the move marks a decidedly positive step for franchise followers, the actress in question is most excited about what the role means for women in the movie business.
Speaking to press at the 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild, “Game of Thrones” and “The Force Awakens” star Gwendoline Christie confirmed what many had already assumed. Her character, the chrome-clad Stormtrooper known as Captain Phasma, will return to wreak havoc on the new band of heroes in Rain Johnson’s yet untitled “Star Wars: Episode VIII.” While it’s always nice to see an interesting villain take center stage, Christie told People there’s another reason she’s excited to put the armor back on. Captain Phasma was a role originally conceived to be played by a man. However, Christie campaigned for the part and now hopes her performance will open doors for more powerful and strong female characters, particularly in the “Star Wars” universe.
“I thought the costume was incredibly striking. I also just liked this notion of a female Stormtrooper,” she said. “I felt it encouraged diversity and it was doing something new and it was an interesting bit of casting for women, and I hope that in something that was such a mainstream success it would breed more of those kind of opportunities for other women.”
Christie’s character was heavily teased in the build-up to December’s massive box office hit, but those who saw the film will remember that she played a very minimal part to the story. In fact, as Entertainment Weekly notes, the last time anyone even saw her character [SPOILER ALERT] was when Finn (John Boyega) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) captured her. They sent her into the trash compactor before blowing the villainous Starkiller base to smithereens. It seems the Captain escaped the trash pit, as “Star Wars” characters often do, and will be back in some capacity in the darker-toned "Episode VIII."
Sadly, any exciting news about “Episode VIII” also comes with the harsh realization that the film will be separated from “The Force Awakens” by about two years thanks to the newly-announced release date for the film. According to Disney and Lucasfilm, the scheduled release of “Star Wars: Episode VIII” won’t be until Dec. 15, 2017. Luckily, audiences won’t be without “Star Wars” for too long as the prequel film, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” is schedule to hit theaters on Dec. 16, 2016, sandwiched between the next installments in the new trilogy.