The Female Pilots Who Were Cut From ‘Return Of The Jedi’ And The Future of Star Wars

As someone who’s been shouting from the rooftop about all of the amazing female characters who already exist in the Star Wars Expanded Universe and really should be featured in the upcoming sequels to the films, I was excited to see Luke Plunkett report this bit of Star Wars trivia at Kotaku:

Turns out that there were four female pilots cast and filmed for Return of the Jedi‘s climatic Battle of Endor. Two of them were A-Wing pilots, the other two piloting an X-Wing, with one, played by Vivienne Chandler, having an entire page of dialogue.

Sadly, according to Star Wars Aficionado, they’ve remained mostly unknown and unseen until now. The two A-Wing pilots, one elderly, can at least be seen buried in the extras on the Star Wars blu-rays (I’ve never seen them), but the two X-Wing pilots went straight to the editing room floor. Bizarrely, one of the A-Wing pilots, pictured up top, had her lines dubbed over by a male voice actor in post-production (though people are telling me she’s still visible in the film).

Things like this really make me increasingly convinced that it would not just be nice, but important to see a Star Wars movie that’s centered around a woman who is on the same kind of hero’s journey Luke Skywalker took all those years ago. This is a moment when we have a generation of young actresses who are credentialing themselves primarily as action stars, from Jennifer Lawrence, to Chloe Grace Moretz, to Hailee Steinfeld, and to a lesser extent, Saorsie Ronan and Abigail Breslin. We have proof that female-centered action franchises, like The Hunger Games, can be global smash hits. But what we don’t have is women worked into major franchises like The Avengers as equals. Having the next trilogy of Star Wars films focus on a woman like Jaina Solo, Han and Leia’s daughter, would be a real passing of the torch, and passing it in a way that’s fully integrated into the franchise already.