Solo: A Star Wars Story: Thandiwe Newton Reveals Her Character's Original Fate

It has been common knowledge for a while now that "Star Wars" movies have experienced a significant series of rocky productions in recent years. Almost every film since Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm (with the notable exception of Rian Johnson's "Star Wars: The Last Jedi") has suffered from sudden creative changeovers, atypical rewrites and re-edits, and rushed production schedules that came at the cost of a sound screenplay. 

In the minds of many, "Solo: A Star Wars Story" represents the poster child of many of the problems that have plagued these movies overall. Actor Thandiwe Newton found this out the hard way, watching her initially sizable role turn into something else entirely during the course of production. The star is now looking back at her experience and revealing just how dissatisfied she is with the final product compared to what she originally signed up for.

Justice For Thandiwe Newton

Even diehard fans raised an eyebrow with the announcement that there would be a Han Solo-centric prequel film, with many fearing the worst when it comes to over-explaining details that never needed to be dissected, or reveling in nostalgia at the cost of original and creative storytelling. When Phil Lord and Chris Miller were initially hired to direct the film, such fears were assuaged among those familiar with the directing duo's established history of spinning questionable ideas into cinematic gold. How could it possibly go wrong under their steady hands? Well, it was too good to be true as the pair parted ways mid-filming, forcing Lucasfilm to scramble to hire Ron Howard as a replacement and get the film done under the impending deadline.

One of the many things to change alongside the director swap was the fate of Thandiwe Newton's character, Val. The complicated character came with much potential and fans quickly took to the rare appearance of a seemingly prominent woman of color in a Star Wars movie during the first hour ... only to see her unceremoniously killed off in the first major action sequence. As she reveals in an interview with Inverse (via Heroic Hollywood), we can count Newton among the rest of us who felt completely thrown off by that decision.

"I felt disappointed by Star Wars that my character was killed. And, actually, in the script, she wasn't killed. It happened during filming. And it was much more just to do with the time we had to do the scenes. It's much easier just to have me die than it is to have me fall into a vacuum of space so I can come back sometime.

That's what it originally was: that the explosion and she falls out and you don't know where she's gone. So I could have come back at some point. But when we came to filming, as far as I was concerned and was aware, when it came to filming that scene, it was too huge a set-piece to create, so they just had me blow up and I'm done. But I remembered at the time thinking, "This is a big, big mistake" — not because of me, not because I wanted to come back. You don't kill off the first Black woman to ever have a real role in a Star Wars movie. Like, are you f**king joking?"

Newton has been around long enough to recognize the importance of her casting in a Star Wars role and is well within her rights to feel so protective of her character's ultimate fate. Obviously there was no outright ill intent behind the decision to make Val's death less ambiguous, but it is an upsetting optic that multiple characters played by people of color in the theatrical cut were either explicitly killed off (as in Newton's case) or removed and recast altogether (as when Michael K. Williams' alien character was replaced by Paul Bettany, who merely played a human).

"Solo" would go on to become one of the lowest-grossing Star Wars movies ever made, though a loyal online following has cropped up since its theatrical release and possibly helped justify a "Lando" spin-off series for Disney+ that would star Donald Glover. Sadly, "Solo" seems to be the end of the line for Newton's Val, though it's not outside the realm of possibility that she could return in flashbacks.

Whatever may happen, Newton has shrugged off her "Star Wars" disappointment and can currently be seen in the new sci-fi/noir film "Reminiscence," playing right now in theaters and on HBO Max.