Last week, I deplored the fact that the only casting confirmation we’d heard about Lupita Nyong’o’s post-Oscar career was a voiceover gig in The Jungle Book.
I was thrilled to be proven wrong yesterday when Disney announced that Nyong’o, along with Game of Thrones castmember Gwendoline Christie, had been cast in J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars sequel, due December 2015, which will take place just thirty years after Return of the Jedi.
Rumors had been swirling of Nyong’o’s addition to the galaxy far, far away in a prominent role since March, so why did Abrams wait so long to announce the news?
Sure, he and Big Mouse might have been negotiating with the Kenyan actress’ agents until now, but conventional wisdom suggests that Abrams forestalled the announcement as part of his signature “mystery box” move — the big surprise no one will be able to stop talking about.
Whatever the intentions and circumstances behind the timing of the rollout, the five-week gap between the late-April announcement of a group of male actors and the early-June announcement of a pair of female co-stars makes the latter look like an afterthought or a grudging concession.
I don’t think that Nyong’o’s casting represents either, but because the Star Wars franchise already has plenty of known issues with its female characters and its female fanbase, I wish Abrams had thought through the ramifications, especially given the franchise’s history, a bit more.
Needless to say, my formerly nonexistent interest in Star Wars: Episode VII has now been piqued by Nyong’o, Christie’s and previously announced actress Daisy Ridley’s presence in the movie. I’m certainly not alone.
And that’s how you build a four-quadrant movie: by giving everybody something to be excited about.