Laura Dern is soon set to make her big screen debut in a galaxy far, far away as part of the cast of Rian Johnson’s hugely anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The character she plays, however, has already entered Star Wars canon. Published last week as part of Disney and Lucasfilm’s Force Friday II product reveal, Claudia Gray’s Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi Leia, Princess of Alderaan tells a story of young Leia bookended by sequences set just before The Last Jedi. Included in one of those sequences is a scene between Leia and Amilyn Holdo, a Vice Admiral in the Resistance who will be played onscreen by Dern. From their conversation in the book, it seems Amilyn may be the first openly LBQT character in the Star Warsmovies. She reveals her omnisexual nature to Leia in the following passage:
‘A pair of pretty dark eyes.’ Then Amilyn thought about that for a moment. ‘Or more than a pair, if you’re into Grans. Or Aqualish, or Talz. Or even — ‘
‘That’s all right! Leia said through laughter. “It’s just humanoid males for me.’
‘Really? That feels so limiting.’
‘Thank goodness it’s a big galaxy.’
It’s always important to champion any kind of inclusion, and Laura Dern may ultimately bring to Amilyn Hondo a performance that establishes the character as a positive LGBT figure. As it stands, however, it’s certainly debatable exactly what Amilyn means. After all, she doesn’t specifically say in the passage transcribed by Screen Rant that she’s attracted to different genders, merely different species. If that were the ultimate qualifier, Jabba the Hutt could be considered similarly because of his own fondness for female humanoids. It’s also a bit of a shame that even a potential step towards inclusion is immediately followed by Princess Leia firmly reminding us of her own heterosexuality.
One should also remember that there’s absolutely no reason existing Star Warscharacters can’t be and have always been LGBT. After all, sexual preference really makes very, very little difference in the broader scope of the space fantasy saga. Some fans have read a romantic bond between Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe and Wen Jiang’s Baze Malbus in last year’s Rogue One. On the one hand, it’s not something that necessarily needs to be said explicitly to tell the story. Still, by not ever recognizing queer characters, the franchise winds up contributing to the power of an outdated cultural taboo. Let’s hope that Laura Dern’s Amilyn Hondo or any numbers other characters in The Last Jedi find a way to celebrate sexual diversity in the Star Wars franchise without feeling like they’re placed there specifically for that purpose.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits the big screen December 15.