Andor star Faye Marsay on importance of LGBTQ+ characters in Star Wars: ‘Normalising the normal’

Faye Marsay as Vel in Andor.

Andor star Faye Marsay has spoken about the ground-breaking importance of her queer character in the Star Wars universe.

When it comes to major movie franchises, very few beat Star Wars, which gave birth to cinematic legends Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, one of the biggest fandoms in entertainment history and countless spin-off comics, novels, TV shows and video games.

Despite its era-defining, 47-year cultural impact, LGBTQ+ characters were left almost completely out the picture until last year when Disney+ series Andor portrayed Star Wars‘ first major on-screen queer couple: Vel Sartha (Marsay) and Cinta Kaz (Varada Sethu).

Although LGBTQ+ characters have become increasingly common in Star Wars literature over the years, there has been criticism for the lack of on-screen representation up until this point. Fans accused the franchise of queerbaiting in the sequel trilogy after they refused to have a romance between resistance hero Poe (Oscar Isaac) and very reluctant stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega).

Instead, they provided a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gay kiss at the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – between two more-minor characters, Larma D’Acy and Wrobie Tyce.

However, Star Wars has finally broken its queer drought with Andor power couple Vel and Cinta, and Faye Marsay has acknowledged the importance of this front-and-centre LGBTQ+ representation, during an interview with The Independent.

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Varada Sethu as Cinta (L) and Faye Marsay as Vel (R) in Star Wars.
Varada Sethu as Cinta (L) and Faye Marsay as Vel in Andor. (Disney+)

“While we were filming, I wasn’t thinking too much about it,” she said. “But then when you think about what it means to the community, and what it says to the massive bunch of people [who] need to see themselves mirrored in the shows they watch. The further we got, the more me and Varada were aware that we were the first openly written queer characters, and how important that was.”

While they are a couple in the series, they are also fleshed-out characters in their own right and the fact they are queer is never questioned, just making them a casual part of the established Star Wars universe, which meant a lot to Marsay.

“The way it was done wasn’t some big announcement,” she continued. “Like I always say: people in the LGBTQI+ community, it’s been going on since the beginning of time, it’ll go on till the end of time. Andor was just normalising the normal. That’s it.”

Whatever magic they put into Vel and Cinta’s relationship worked because Marsay confirmed they have not had faced any criticism.

“Nothing. It’s gorgeous. And reassuring. And the way it should be,” she said.

Considering we live in a world where teachers are investigated for showing films featuring gay characters, the lack of any backlash is surprisingly refreshing.

Marsay, who also starred as a queer character in the BAFTA-award winning Pride, and can currently be seen on the BBC in Ten Pound Poms, wasn’t afraid to wad into the debate around whether straight actors should be playing LGBTQ+ roles.

“I find this one tricky,” she reflected. “I do think that authentic casting is super important because those are lived experiences and there are groups of people who might not get the parts they want by virtue of who they are and what their sexuality or orientation is.

“I don’t think it’s [necessarily] this or that. But equal opportunity to explore those roles – certainly for people who were overlooked due to their sexual orientation – I think we need to be mindful of that.”

Andor season one is available to watch on Disney+ and will return for a second season next year.

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