Hollywood has a long, not-so-proud history of not giving audiences an abundance of strong female characters. And on the rare occasions that it does, that strength often comes off as a surprise or is played as a punchline. Not so with the upcoming Star Wars standalone film, Rogue One. Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso follows The Force Awakens’ Rey as another kick-ass, independent female lead whose strength is never questioned nor played for comedy.
“The idea was that it shouldn’t be a joke,” says Jones when she and costar Diego Luna stopped by SiriusXM for an Rogue One Town Hall that will air on Entertainment Weekly Radio (Channel 105) next week. “It shouldn’t be like ‘Oh, now she’s being strong’ and we will have to suddenly see that as a surprise.”
Jones says Jyn’s strength can be viewed in all the details surrounding the character, including her wardrobe. “It’s literally down to the costume. I didn’t want her to be kind of running around in a tank top, a sleeveless top. It should be just that she’s focused on what she has to be doing. She has a very particular task ahead of her and that’s where the focus is. We’re not objectifying her. We’re not looking at her body.”
It’s important to the Rogue One star that Jyn is seen as a character, as opposed to an object. “You relate to her, I hope, as a person, as a character that you care about,” says Jones. “And that’s at the forefront of your mind when you’re watching the film. And I think for all the characters, it is an ensemble film in the sense that you connect with each one of them and have empathy for each one of them in a different way. They all have their own story.”
And those stories are very diverse, much like the characters and the actors playing them as well. Luna, who plays Captain Cassian Andor, discussed being part of what is easily the most diverse Star Wars film to date. “I think that the whole idea of revisiting Star Wars is very smart,” says the actor. “This is a much more modern film in terms of that diversity you were talking about, and skin tones and accents, and the role of women.”
He also adds that there is a parallel to what takes place in the movie and what is happening right here and right now. “It’s a great tool to say, ‘in a galaxy far, far away’, because you can say a lot of stuff about the world you live in without having to point at people. You’re like, ‘No, no, no, this is a galaxy far, far away! Don’t take it personal. It’s not about you.’ But it is about us. It is a film about heroes that are taking control of their reality and shaping their reality. And it’s the people. It’s the most grounded film. There are no Jedis, no superpowers. It’s just regular people like you and I doing extraordinary things.”
To watch Jones and Luna discuss more about the diversity and roles of women in Star Wars, check out the video above. And make sure to tune in for the full SiriusXM Rogue One Town Hall on Entertainment Weekly Radio (Channel 105) on Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. ET.