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Thandie Newton talks Star Wars, diversity + more

STAR: Thandie Newton

STARS, INFLUENCERS, press and more came out for a special BFI Southbank preview of the highly anticipated movie Hans: A Solo Story.

The film, which serves as a prequel and shows the story of a young Hans Solo, is released in the UK today (May 24) and the BFI put together a special screening ahead of its wide release alongside a panel discussion with the films stars, Thandie Newton and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

The event also served as an opportunity to celebrate the BFI and Lucasfilm’s partnership programme that gives young people from under-represented backgrounds the chance to work in the industry.

Newton is the first black female lead character in a Star Wars film, and spoke fondly of her experience getting the role. “It’s the stuff dreams are made of. I’m an actress and have been for a long time. I was only six or seven when the first film came out and it's just you almost don't want to imagine yourself in that place because it's so specially done,” said the 45-year-old actress .” So when it happened and i was asked to take part it was completely surreal.”

The panel discussion was hosted by BFI Southbank's Head of Cinemas and Events Gaylene Gould, who spoke with both Newton and Waller-Bridge about their role in the film alongside furthering representation of women and specifically women of colour in film.

Speaking on her own experiences. Newton said: “I think about how i felt as a kid growing up in Cornwall. We were one of very few mixed families and i didn’t see myself represented anywhere and i desperately want to help people who feel like that because I was lucky,” she said.

In a rallying cry for diversity in front of and behind the scenes in film, she added: “It’s something to celebrate, bitterness doesn’t get us anywhere, it’s about moving forward, always moving forward.

She also paid a special tribute to actress Femi Taylor, who played Jabba The Hutt’s Twi’lek slave dancer Oola in Return Of The Jedi, and portrayed Newton’s mother in Flirting, the Westworld star’s first ever film in 1991.

After revealing she had invited Taylor to the screening, Newton said: “I just want to say to you Femi Taylor, it’s because of people like you, who stand proud and who work their arses off.”

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