Two new ladies: Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie join the cast of Episode VII

Lupita Nyong'o and Gwendoline Christie

Lucasfilm has announced not one, but two new women are joining the cast of Episode VII: Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) and Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie!

“I could not be more excited about Lupita and Gwendoline joining the cast of Episode VII,” says Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy in a statement. “It’s thrilling to see this extraordinarily talented ensemble taking shape.”

Nyong’o has been rumored for a while now, but Christie is a complete surprise… And yes, this is a welcome announcement for those of us who were hoping to see more diversity in the cast!

Now that I have a moment to process this, I don’t think our objections had anything to do with today’s castings – remember the Nyong’o rumor dates back to March, long before any of the cast was formally announced, and I don’t doubt that negotiations with Christie predate the first cast announcement as well. We can’t know why they weren’t done in time to be included with the rest of the cast, and I don’t think any of us have the resources to speculate. (Although it will be interesting to see if the trades dig anything up.)

But I do still think it’s important that we spoke up in April, and that it was so measured. (Yes, it was measured. Trust me. If you’ve never seen a real fangirl flame war, count yourself as blessed.) Yes, they made it known quite quickly that there was at least one more female role to cast, but as Meredith Woerner said on io9 today regarding the original announcement:

That was the cast. We’re not apologists and we’re not fortune tellers. There simply weren’t enough women in the first ever picture of the official cast. It was our gut reaction to the photograph that Abrams and company meticulously decided would be their first ever announcement of their cast. There isn’t a running blog of each cast member as they were cast, this was it. I stand by that story then and I stand by it now. I’m super glad more women were cast in this movie. Great. Good. But at the time, that image was troubling.

And keep in mind – we still have no idea who/what Nyong’o and Christie are playing, and we won’t for some time. (Or Daisy Ridley for that matter, though she certainly seems to be the easiest to guess.) We don’t know if they’re major roles, and there are a LOT of people in this movie – they can’t all be leads.

I don’t regret my reaction on April 29, and I certainly don’t regret being one of dozens, one of hundreds, who had it. I don’t regret sitting up and saying “We expect better,” and nor should any of us.

We expect better. And thank you, Lucasfilm, J.J. Abrams, for not letting it end there. That excitement that folks were missing for the first announcement? I saw it today. And I’m glad we could finally join in.

29 thoughts on “Two new ladies: Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie join the cast of Episode VII

  1. Alex Johnson

    PERFECT casting right here. Now, let the wild speculation as to what characters each actress is playing begin!

  2. Aaron

    I’m hoping for a new trio consisting of Boyega, Ridley and Lupita whose last name I wil hopefully be able to pronounce by 2015. Wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air? :-)
    The most curious thing so far, though: Lots and lots of actors. And I mean it: Lots. If you compare this cast to either of the earlier trilogies, it can only mean that some of these roles must be really small. I wonder, I wonder… :-)

  3. Oleo

    That’s great news. I can’t help but think that the timing of the announcement is meant to change the subject as they try to bury those spy pics.

    1. Emily

      Jason from MakingStarWars saw that the original post date of the announcement was actually last Friday (5/30), but for whatever reason they never made it live. The date’s been changed now, but I doubt it’s to combat the TMZ pictures, even if that’s what it looks like now.

      1. Dunc Post author

        Yeah, they probably prepped it for Friday but maybe things weren’t 100% until today. In any case, yay!

      2. Oleo

        I believe the response to having my conspiracy theory debunked should be something like this: That’s what they want you to believe sheeple! Oh well, what a great news day!

        1. Dunc Post author

          If you go full nutbar and just start blaming Obama for this, I am SO turning this blog around. ;)

  4. kataja

    Totally approve of this! Excellent news!!! And yeah – I’m speculating wildly, right now!!! :D

  5. Kelly

    YES!! More women AND a woman of color!!!! Good to know that a universe populated by all manner of alien species doesn’t have only humans that are white males!

    1. Adrian

      To be fair, we don’t know who they’re playing. One or both of them could be playing an alien of some kind, which doesn’t bother me but may bother some.

      1. Kelly

        Yeah, I realized that about two minutes after I hit SEND. I really hope they make Lupita a human character. It seems like most of the diversity in the prequels cast went to the non-humans. Better than not having any diversity at all, but still…

        1. Adrian

          I’ve seen some hoping that Nyong’o is playing Asajj Ventress or Aurra Sing, which I’m all for but do wonder if there’d be a backlash since they’re so pale.

          Diversity is definitely a tricky thing in Star Wars with so many species about. Boyega, I’m pretty sure, is playing a human, at least.

          1. Dunc Post author

            That Ventress ‘rumor’ (as well as the Ahsoka one – I don’t think Sing was ever mentioned) is born out of speculation. It’s pure driven bullshit.

            And yeah, casting a black actress only to paint her white or orange (or both) would not be well received.

  6. lovelucas

    Must be nice – there seems to be no budget limitations whatsoever. Both of these ladies are welcome additions, however.

  7. Eric J. Brown

    Two interesting additions. I hope their characters are interesting as well!

  8. Shiara

    This is exciting news, and I look forward to hearing more.

    It’s a little depressing to see the claims in various places about how the concern over not enough women was “premature.” Not only for the reasons quoted above, but because the addition of these two actresses brings the new cast up to a whopping 33% female. That’s still not really a number to rejoice over.

  9. Katie A.M. (@EleganceLiberty)

    Awesome news! I could see Gwendoline Christie as a near-human alien, and Lupita will be wonderful in whatever role she’s given. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for both of them!

    (Also, I made the mistake of reading the comments on a certain site that shall remain safely anonymous. Between the casual racism, making fun of Gwendoline’s appearance, and mocking the requests for a little diversity… I’m mad at everything right now, ughhh.)

    1. Dunc Post author

      I heard that the comments on the official FB post were also putrid. I am NOT LOOKING so hard, because eff those people.

      1. Katie A.M. (@EleganceLiberty)

        Seeing as it’s Facebook (which begs me to ask the question: WHY would people want to say such vile things with the real name -and potentially information by proxy- attached to them in this day and age?!), I’m sadly not surprised.

        If anything, some of those comments I had the misfortune of seeing on a certain Star Wars fansite really drove home the point that these things are worth fighting for. So Lupita and Gwendoline being added makes some guy uncomfortable… but their presence (as well as that of Daisy Ridley and even Carrie Fisher) will mean the entire world to a little girl sitting there in the theater come next December.

        1. Eric J. Brown

          If I may ask a somewhat sensitive (or inadvertently insensitive) question — why look and read the comments at places like that? While such comments surely don’t have the same impact upon me — I do find such idiocy distasteful and purposefully avoid engaging in conversations there — that’s part of the reason why I read this site. Why even seek out opinions that are going to be so base and pointless?

          1. Dunc Post author

            It’s valuable to look sometimes, just to see the range of reactions, even the horrible ones – I don’t want to pretend that the people posting here are the only ones with something to say. But then, I have a highly developed trainwreck syndrome… And it’s nothing I haven’t seen before, believe me.

            I can’t speak for Katie, of course, but if nothing else, it helps me remember why I run this site – and moderate the comments – the way I do. Doesn’t mean I’m not glad we haven’t received much that’s particularly objectionable since the Wook/breast post, but I also won’t be particularly shocked next time we do get something putrid.

  10. Stooge

    I think it’s important to remember that the old rules about Star Wars no longer apply, especially when it comes to lead/major/minor roles. We’re going to get much more content than ever before, and it’s all preplanned, so small parts in one movie could easily get their own spinoff film, TV show, etc. Everyone’s a potential Mace Windu these days.

  11. Jeff

    This is simply an amazing cast, but the truly best part is that we really have no freaking idea what’s going to happen with the story…that’s a good thing in this day and age of spoilers.

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  13. SarahK

    I’m late to the thread party, but my interest in Ep. VII was zero after the first-impression cast announcement came off as: Token, Girlfriend, tons of white guys. So, it’s taken me a while to come back around to cautiously not entirely without hope…and I hope these two will have some interesting scenes.

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