Laura Dern: Vice Admiral Holdo in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I have such a thing for strong, smart female characters. They inspire me personally, and they also give me such hope for my daughter and the role models of her future.
Laura Dern has made quite a career out of playing smart, capable women on the big screen, and I’m thrilled that her latest part is playing Vice Admiral Holdo in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
What we know of the character Dern is playing in Star Wars: The Last Jedi is brief, but it’s definitely interesting!
About Vice Admiral Holdo
Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo is a character developed specifically for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. She’s reported to have a quirky personality, expressing herself by dyeing her hair vibrant colors. She’s an acquaintance of Princess Leia, who found Holdo to be insightful and charming, but sometimes irritating.
Here’s what Laura Dern had to say about Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Vice Admiral Holdo:
Q: How did you become involved with Star Wars: The Last Jedi?
Laura Dern (LD): Rian Johnson called asking to have lunch and talk about something. I knew Looper and I was told: he’s an amazing independent filmmaker and he’s really excited about something he wants to talk with you about.
Then Kathy Kennedy simultaneously called me just to check in.
We went to lunch and he started describing something he was looking for in a character and how he would love for me to help invent this with him.
It all sounded great and it wasn’t until the end of the lunch when he whispered, “It’s in Star Wars”. Oh my god, it’s amazing, having been a huge fan as a child. I was listening to this amazing story, and that’s what’s incredible about Star Wars .
He started describing a world that was about the complexity of being a human being and the battle between light and dark and not knowing which would win, and the struggle of family and the hero’s journey.
You feel it all and you realize that it’s what filmmakers that I’ve worked with in independent films have longed to explore. He described this complicated female character in such a beautiful way and also spoke to something that rebel filmmakers have asked of their collaborators, of me.
Then to realize, my god, that’s what George Lucas invented. And that’s why I think this stands the test of time in such a profound way — it’s not a franchise, it’s a legacy of the deepest storytelling we have.
There isn’t a child or an adult that doesn’t connect to that question, and it isn’t good guy vs. bad guy. All of it is contained and being wrestled within. Both among many characters and also within one’s self. Particularly Star Wars: The Last Jedi — you feel it in every storyline and every character in a really profound and beautiful way.
Q: Without giving anything away, can you tell us about your character (Vice Admiral Holdo) and how you developed it?
LD: I have purple hair. There’s a new boss in town. I have arrived in the Resistance and I am a Vice Admiral.
I can tell you how amazing it was to be inside Rian’s (Johnson) head. He invented each of these new characters. It was incredible to have the privilege of collaborating on who Vice Admiral Holdo is and how to present such a powerful woman.
I really appreciated the longing of Rian and Kathy Kennedy and all of our producers to allow a powerful female character to allow her physicality to be feminine, as opposed to, “she’s a strong female, let’s put her in the guys’ clothes.”
I thought that was wonderful and I feel excited to join this amazing legacy of strong females in space starting with our magnificent icon of Princess Leia.
Q: Many people remember their parents taking them to see Star Wars. Do you remember having experiences where your family took you to movies and it changed you and made you want to be a part of that world?
LD: I’m spoiled in my answer. I saw the first Star Wars. I was a little girl and it was the first time I stood in line for a movie at the Cinema Dome and it was blocks long — it was profound for me.
The genre simply wouldn’t have been something I was interested in, but the spoiled part is that I have been raised by actors.
I’ve been introduced into a world where movies are magical and my parents are such fans. My mother and father are rebels and they love hardcore independent film.
In this specific case, my dad had done a Douglas Trumbull film called “Silent Running” and I’m told it was a great influence on George Lucas. It was my dad and three droids named Huey, Dewey and Louie.
I became obsessed with these droids and I’m told they were a great influence toward R2D2. I had a figurine of this droid and I remember that idea of being in space with these characters who are your partners.
Then suddenly Star Wars opened up this kind of storytelling in this massive way, so it felt personal, as Star Wars does to all of us.
Q: Do you think little girls are going to want to emulate the strong women in Star Wars? What’s that going to bring to the whole franchise?
LD: It’s just incredible. That’s so exciting. I know what Leia was for me and I know what she was for all of you.
It wasn’t just her strength in some super heroic way but in the deeply human way that Carrie Fisher so incredibly embodied this fearless, irreverent, sassy, bold, vulnerable female. And hold all things to be true and powerful and kick-butt…all of those things were in one character!
We know how rarely we see that, so that meant the world to me and now my daughter and all her friends have this in Rey and soon other characters in this movie. It’s really exciting to see what the different females do.
- I’m going to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi press junket!
- The Highlights of Star Wars: The Last Jedi Press Day
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