Riz Ahmed: British acting’s New Hope for Star Wars

Star Wars leading man Riz Ahmed opines about the dangers of being a political actor in a new age of empire

Riz Ahmed: British acting’s New Hope for Star Wars
Gary Houlder

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Edward Said, the late, great orientalist, once observed, ‘every empire tells itself that it is unlike all other empires, and that its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate.’ We can be fairly certain that Said mainly had British colonialism in mind, rather than an evil galactic empire led by a cowled Sith Lord who shoots lightning from his fingers.

But just as our own earthly imperial history has been scrutinised through political movements such as Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall, now it’s the turn of Star Wars’ very own bad guys to face the wrath of the postcolonial critique. Considering they constructed a moon-sized, planet-destroying base that they also then audaciously named ‘the Death Star’, any claims that they only wanted to ‘educate and liberate’ seem unlikely.

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