Thandiwe Newton made history in 2018 as the first Black woman to have a major role in a “Star Wars” movie. She appeared in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” as Val, a member of Beckett’s (Woody Harrelson) crew. As seen in the movie, her character dies in an explosion after detonating a bomb that destroys a bridge. But according to the actress in a recent interview with Inverse, her death was not written into the original script.
“I felt disappointed by Star Wars that my character was killed. And, actually, in the script, she wasn’t killed. It happened during filming. And it was much more just to do with the time we had to do the scenes. It’s much easier just to have me die than it is to have me fall into a vacuum of space so I can come back sometime,” said Newton, who feels killing off her character signaled a missed opportunity for the “Star Wars” universe.
Newton, who stars in the new film “Reminiscence” and in HBO’s “Westworld,” said that Val in the original script actually escapes the explosion, with her fate left uncertain.
“That’s what it originally was: that the explosion and she falls out and you don’t know where she’s gone. So I could have come back at some point. But when we came to filming, as far as I was concerned and was aware, when it came to filming that scene, it was too huge a set-piece to create, so they just had me blow up and I’m done,” she said.
She added, “But I remembered at the time thinking, ‘This is a big, big mistake’ — not because of me, not because I wanted to come back. You don’t kill off the first Black woman to ever have a real role in a ‘Star Wars’ movie. Like, are you fucking joking?”
Newton recently made headlines for reclaiming her birthname of Thandiwe. As part of a British Vogue cover story, Newton announced she is reclaiming the original spelling of her name in Hollywood and will be credited as such in all of her future film and television projects. Thandiwe means “beloved” in Shona. The only reason Thandiwe got switched to Thandie in the first place is because the “W” was “carelessly missed out from her first credit.” Newton said of name reclamation, “That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine.”