Thandie Newton signs onto films for the “complete experience” — and that’s why she’s okay with what happens to Val in Solo
There are spoilers ahead for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
One of the best things about Solo: A Star Wars Story is that Thandie Newton is in it. One of the worst things about Solo: A Star Wars Story is that Thandie Newton’s character, Val, dies about 30 minutes into the movie. It’s an incredibly upsetting moment, considering we had just gotten to know — and love — the resourceful, take-no-prisoners character. But in order to get the heist done, and for Han Solo to actually start down his smuggling path, it’s something that needs to happen.
We first meet Val when Han meets Val, and that’s in the trenches of a pretty crazy blaster fight, and Val is fighting for the Empire. Or, well, she’s masquerading as someone fighting for the Empire along with her partner (and partner in crime), Beckett. Han, seeing that the life they’re leading is way better than his in the trenches, begs to join them. After much reluctance on everyone’s part, Han becomes the latest member of their crew, and the group sets off for their next target.
It’s here where Val meets her end. Seeing no other way to secure a stash of hyperfuel coaxium — and stop the other smugglers from getting it — Val detonates an explosive nearby, making the ultimate sacrifice. But knowing that she wouldn’t make it to the end of the film didn’t stop Newton from giving the role her all. For her, the role of Val was hella important, because it helped shape the future of one of her favorite Star Wars characters: Han Solo.
"When I was a kid, I saw [the films] for the first time, and I was like seven years old when they first came out, I just loved his irreverence," Newton tells HelloGiggles during the Solo press day in Los Angeles. "Also, there was a sense of pathos with Solo, that there was something he couldn't shake, you know what I mean? It's like, 'Ooh, what is it with this guy?' He's the bad boy that you kind of want to go and, whatever stuff's been going on for him, you want to be the one to heal the pain. He's one of those guys."
Newton came onboard Solo knowing what would happened to her character, and that was fine by her since she was more concerned with knowing how that would eventually end up affecting Han.
"It's like, poor Val!" Newton says with a laugh. "But at the same time, there was something very humbling about [her death]. You carved something so huge, and things changed as we were going along [filming the movie], as well, like the nature of how I, you know [die]. It was also the humility that comes from recognizing that you have to make sacrifices for the greater good. Not just me, as a character, but me as an actress, too. I don't sign on for things just for my own, the visibility of my character, and the dominance of my character. I sign up for the complete experience. I loved the idea of going back into [Han's] early life, partly because he was, without a doubt, my favorite character from the first movies.
As for whether we’ll ever see Val back on the big screen again? Newton’s not so sure, but never say never.
"I tend not to make really strong decisions about what I'm going to do in the future, partly because there are so many moving parts with family, and I'm doing Westworld," Newton continues. "But I'm so up for everything, and really excited about how it's captured people's imaginations. Of course I would be. I think that if it was something that was going to be of value and enrich people's experience of what it feels like to be a human being on the planet right now, then yeah, I'm up for it.
"As long as the intention behind these things is ultimately for the good of everybody...not just like a money-making scheme, but something that's of real value. One of the things that I think is really taken seriously with Star Wars is that the fans have a say. If there's a real yearning for something, it tends to come about. Yeah, I imagine if there was that desire, that I can't see why it wouldn't be considered."
So do you hear that? If we want another Star Wars movie with a strong female lead and Val at the helm, we’ve got to start tweeting a lot at the Star Wars twitter account, since that’s how things get done.