For a certain subset of the culture, there is absolutely nothing more exciting about Star Wars: The Last Jedi than the introduction of Laura Dern‘s character Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. Not the mystery of Luke Skywalker’s recent past. Not the subject of Rey’s parentage. Not those precarious little Porgs. Not even the identity (or identities) of the Last Jedi. It is all about Dern’s still somewhat mysterious lavender-haired Vice Admiral.
Though, when Entertainment Weekly dropped a few new nuggets as to what Vice Admiral Holdo is all about last night, we came across a rumor that has been circulating within the deep Star Wars fandom for a few months now, but which was news to us: Dern’s character is rumored to be the first openly queer character to grace the screen in a Star Wars film.
The impetus of the rumors comes from the official tie-in novel Leia: Princess of Alderaan that debuted back in September, aimed at the YA audience. Turns out that Carrie Fisher’s Leia has known Dern’s Holdo since before the events of the very first Star Wars movie, A New Hope. The two young women are having a jokey conversation about matters of sex and romance when Holdo mentions that she enjoys “a pair of pretty dark eyes.”
“Or more than a pair, if you’re into Grans. Or Aqualish, or Talz. Or even—” she adds.
The implication being that she might be into more than just humans. Though, inter-species lust isn’t exactly completely uncharted territory in the Star Wars universe. The Star Wars universe’s very own Harvey Weinstein, Jaba the Hutt, certainly seemed to be into all different females of all different humanoid species. The Clone Wars animated series has also shown some characters in inter-species relationships.
Back to the scene at hand: Leia shoot backs, “That’s all right!… It’s just humanoid males for me.”
“Really? That feels so limiting,” replies Holdo.
Which gives fans just enough of a hint to suggest that Holdo’s romantic implications can extend not just beyond species but beyond genders as well.
It would also track with promises J.J. Abrams made last year that an LGBTQ character may show up in this trilogy. He told The Daily Beast that it would be silly to assume that in the entire giant universe Star Wars is set in, that there wasn’t a queer population. “When I talk about inclusivity it’s not excluding gay characters. It’s about inclusivity. So of course,” he said.
There have been a small sampling of characters within the LGBTQ spectrum in Star Wars media before. In a 1999 comic book, a Jedi gone bad was said to have undergone “transgenderative surgery” to transform herself from an alien male into a human female when she was on the run and trying to hide her identity (though, one might quibble whether that character really qualifies). In Star Wars video games, there have been several characters who will flirt or enter relationships with playable characters of either gender (though, this is becoming something of a norm among more progressive video game developers, anyway). Still, though, Lucasfilm wiped the slate clean on the Star Wars canon in 2015, so many of those examples are no longer considered “canon.” A queer character has also, notably, never been specifically identified in any of the films (though, it’s not like the personal lives and romantic histories of every character has been detailed—surely at least some of those storm troopers had to be gay).
Of course, whether or not she happens to be something like a “sex positive, polyamorous, pansexual” or not, Dern’s character is still intriguing and mysterious. We know she’s something of a Leia protégée who rises to the rank of Vice Admiral of the resistance under the princess and in this film comes to be the temporary boss. EW tells us that she has a rocky relationship with Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, and there’s plenty of questions as to whether or not she ultimately proves to be good or evil.
“She enters the Resistance to shake things up,” Dern told the magazine.
She may also prove to be something of the Star Wars answer to Miranda Priestly. She says the character represents “stereotypes about women bosses… Like if she looks a certain way, she can’t achieve the job or she must be brazen. You know, all the different versions of what we label someone. I mean, there are reasons why I might look the way I look.”
(There are rumors that her character’s purple hair is a cosmetic choice, and not a natural feature).
Basically, she seems like a complicated, “difficult” woman—a type of role Dern exceeds at (hello, Renata). Though, maybe we’re barking up the wrong tree. After all, Mark Hamill himself has left the door open to the possibility of Luke Skywalker being gay. Something about a former space twink with daddy issues running away from the world as he grows older seems to track.
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