Two months and two billion box office dollars later, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has reaped huge returns for Disney with its most progressive episode yet. Now that Daisy Ridley’s Rey and John Boyega’s Finn have given the Star Wars franchise its first female Jedi and black lead, respectively, does its fearless director J.J. Abrams see a future for a gay character in the galaxy?
“Of course!” Abrams said Thursday night at his Bad Robot HQ, where he hosted the US-Ireland Alliance’s annual Oscar Wilde Awards ahead of Sunday’s Oscars, where The Force Awakens is nominated in five categories. “When I talk about inclusivity it’s not excluding gay characters. It’s about inclusivity. So of course.”
By Abrams’ logic, the sprawling Star Wars universe couldn’t possibly exist without a gay populace—even if we haven’t seen a single character identified as gay thus far. “I would love it,” he said. “To me, the fun of Star Wars is the glory of possibility. So it seems insanely narrow-minded and counterintuitive to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in that world.”
Amid the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Abrams has been vocal about the need for Hollywood to not just talk about but take action in the name of diversity.
“I think we all have a hell of a lot to do, and I think it is insane to me that we still have to have a conversation about inclusivity. It’s shameful,” he told The Daily Beast last month. “We all need to do better to represent this world. It’s something that is important to me, and is something that we’re focusing on at [production company] Bad Robot.
Maybe, as some hopeful Star Wars fans have theorized, The Force Awakens already introduced the franchise’s first gay character. Who wouldn’t ship Boyega’s Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron?
Abrams, who also produced the upcoming 10 Cloverfield Lane, served as emcee for the night feting Sarah Greene, Room director Lenny Abrahamson, and late-night host James Corden, who later joined fellow honoree Snow Patrol in a musical performance. But he had special words for his Star Wars star Ridley, who landed the career-making role of plucky heroine Rey after an “insane search” because she “could believably and authentically be vulnerable, and tough, and beautiful, and relatable, confident, funny, terrified, heartsick, and physical.”
She can also be cheeky, dropping two adorable F-bombs in her acceptance speech with her dad in the audience. “I’m pretty new to this,” Ridley beamed, describing a pre-fame commercial shoot that demanded she cheerfully scarf down less than appetizing food, take after take: “The pork pie was really fucking grim.”
On the (Irish) green carpet, Abrams praised Ridley, sharing his delight at the fan following she’s built among both girls and boys. Optimistic, he said conversations about diversity and inclusiveness are happening more and more behind closed doors.
“It’s in private meetings, it’s in private phone calls, it’s in interviews,” he said. “I know that this will happen. I know it will. Not just on camera but behind the camera.”