For Star Wars: The Last Jedi, writer-director Rian Johnson wanted to deliberately focus on expanding the diverse cast first forged by director J.J. Abrams with 2015's The Force Awakens. It's why Johnson cast Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, the first major female Asian character in the Star Wars universe, and why Laura Dern plays such a critical role as Vice Admiral Holdo, one of the leaders of the Resistance.
There is, however, one significant element of diversity that Johnson did not work into The Last Jedi — LGBT representation — and in an interview with BuzzFeed News, the filmmaker said that's because the film is also missing a major element pivotal to the previous two Star Wars trilogies: a central romance.
"That just wasn't a big part of it," Johnson said, sitting in a giant conference room in Disney's headquarters in Burbank, California. While The Force Awakens was built around the strong connection between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega), "They're more like buddies," said Johnson. "There's a little hint of something, but there's nothing in these movies that feels like the equivalent of Han and Leia in Empire. As I worked this story forward, there was nothing that seemed like it would reasonably turn into that."
John Boyega and Oscar Isaac in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Johnson is keenly aware of fan enthusiasm for a romance between Finn and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and he was also familiar with internet chatter that a passage in one of the Star Wars novels suggests that Holdo may be bisexual. But he said that as he worked out the story arcs for the characters in this film — which revolve around the First Order's relentless pursuit of what's left of the Resistance's fleet — there just wasn't time to develop a strong romantic plotline, save for a brief kiss Rose gives Finn at the end of the film.
"Sexuality, in general, is not something that's front of mind in any of these movies," he said.
But Johnson was quick to add, "I think [LBGT representation] is something that absolutely could have a place in this universe. I'm sure it will at some point." It may come rather soon: Star Wars: Episode IX, due for release in 2019, is currently being written by Abrams and Chris Terrio, with Abrams set to direct — and Abrams has said he would "love" for LGBT characters to appear in Star Wars.
As for Johnson, he will have even more power in shaping the future of the Star Warsuniverse, since he recently signed on to oversee a brand new trilogy of films, the first of which he will definitely write and direct. "The whole pitch was, new trilogy, new story, go new places, meet new people, broad wide open blue sky of a canvass," Johnson said.
In the spirit of that kind of possibility, does Johnson see room for LBGT characters as prominent as Finn, Rose, and Holdo?
"I don't see why there wouldn't be," he said. "The truth is I'm just starting to come up with the new trilogy, but it's absolutely something that I think there could be a place for in this universe, as we see these movies reflect more and more the way the world actually looks like right now, today. You see that in gender representation, people of color. As we're doing that, we're doing that, period. I think [LGBT representation] is one element that we haven't done yet that we need to do."