Will a Woman Ever Direct a 'Star Wars' Film? Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy Responds

In a galaxy far, far away… one day a woman will direct a Star Wars film. That is according to the woman who holds the keys to the franchise, Kathleen Kennedy.

In a wide-ranging interview with Variety about Hollywood's biggest sci-fi franchise ahead of the release of spin-off film Rogue One next month, the Lucasfilm president said she hoped to diversify the series' directing pool as more films are added to the slate.

Since George Lucas ceded his creation to Disney, the studio has largely hired from a pool of up-and-coming male directors—the exception being veteran J.J. Abrams, who was tasked with getting the new trilogy off to a solid start with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Godzilla director Gareth Edwards is behind the lens for Rogue One, while Looper's Rian Johnson and Jurassic World's Colin Trevorrow will director Episodes VIII and IX respectively.

So, when can we expect to see a female director charged with a Star Wars film?

"We want to make sure that when we bring a female director in to do Star Wars, they're set up for success. They're gigantic films, and you can't come into them with essentially no experience," Kennedy told Variety.

She added that few female directors have had the opportunity to direct big tentpole films with budgets in excess of $100 million and that Lucasfilm hopes to nurture up-and-coming female filmmakers to take that next step. "We want to really start to focus in on people we would love to work with and see what kinds of things they're doing to progress up that ladder now, and then pull them in when the time is right," Kennedy explained.

However, some critics have suggested that Kennedy's comments exemplify the disparity between male and female filmmakers in Hollywood.

The likes of The Verge and Uproxx pointed out that female directors can't gain experience directing big-budget tentpole films unless they are given the opportunity to do so by the likes of Lucasfilm and Disney, thus creating a catch-22 situation.

On Twitter, German filmmaker Lexi Alexander—who directed the Elijah Wood-starring Green Street—indicated that emerging female directors are rarely entrusted with big movies in comparison to up-and-coming male directors. Responding to a tweet about Fantastic Four, the critically maligned 2015 superhero film directed by relative newcomer Josh Trank, Alexander said:

The talent pool of female filmmakers active in both movies and television has exploded, particularly in 2016. Mira Nair, an accomplished small-budget director, recently helmed the acclaimed Disney film Queen of Katwe, starring Lupita Nyong'o. Susanne Bier, meanwhile, was lauded for her highly cinematic work on BBC series The Night Manager; in fact, some fans called for her to direct the next Bond film because of her eye for directing taut spy action.

Furthermore, some female filmmakers have proven more than capable of helming large-scale films. The acclaimed Selma director Ava DuVernay, for example, is directing a $100 million film, A Wrinkle in Time, for Disney. She is just the third female in Hollywood to do so: the other two are Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow (2002's K-19: The Widowmaker) and Patty Jenkins, the filmmaker behind 2017's Wonder Woman.

It seems there could be more opportunity for female filmmakers as Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly that plans may be afoot to continue the current Star Wars franchise beyond the planned Episodes VII to IX trilogy.

"That's a conversation going on right now, too. I have to honestly tell you, could we [do nothing but stand-alones]? Sure. But I don't know. We are looking at all of that," she said.