One of the most striking things about Diego Luna‘s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story character is his way of speaking. For his role as Captain Cassian Andor – an intelligence officer for the Rebel Alliance who leads a diverse group on a mission to steal the Death Star plans – Luna spoke in his natural accent. And when the first trailers that featured Luna speaking dropped, it didn’t go unnoticed. People took to Twitter to celebrate that a film franchise like Star Wars didn’t try to change Luna’s chilango-inflected English. At a time when a Spanish accent is still largely used for comedic effect across film and television, it’s especially pertinent that a main character in one of the biggest franchises wasn’t treated as the butt of the joke because of his pronunciation.
So when 27-year-old Perls took her father to see the film, she hoped that Luna’s accent would resonate with him. On January 2, she posted on her River Always Knew Tumblr about the importance of hearing a different accent in a mainstream movie. “I took my father to see Rogue One today,” she began. “I wanted my Mexican father, with his thick Mexican accent, to experience what it was like to see a hero in a blockbuster film, speak the way he does. When Diego Luna’s character came on screen and started speaking, my dad nudged me and said, ‘he has a heavy accent.’ I was like, ‘Yup.’ When the film was over and we were walking to the car, he turns to me and says, ‘did you notice that he had an accent?” And I said, ‘Yeah dad, just like yours.'”
Her father then asked her if the movie performed well and if viewers had reacted positively to it. When he learned that it was a hit, he must have felt a sense of pride. “He then asked me why Diego Luna hadn’t changed his accent, and I told him that Diego has openly talked about keeping his accent and how proud he is of it. And my dad was silent for a while and then he said, ‘And he was a main character.’ And I said, ‘He was.’ And my dad was so happy. As we drove home, he started telling me about other Mexican actors that he thinks should be in movies in America. Representation matters.”
This short touching story may have solely lived on Perls’ Tumblr, but as luck would have it, Diego Luna himself saw the post and tweeted about it. Luna – whose own relationship with his father will make you awww – said he felt emotional reading Perls’ post.
Following Luna’s tweet, Perls has seen an outpouring of support, which further proves that diverse portrayals are necessary on screen.
Then, the media caught wind of the story and it appeared on CNN, Huffington Post, Entertainment Weekly and other outlets. Perls took to YouTube and shared a video of her father’s adorable reaction to going viral.