One of the biggest complaints about The Last Jedi was the character played by Kelly Marie Tran. One of the biggest complaints about The Rise of Skywalker was the absence of the character played by Kelly Marie Tran.
Many fans saw The Rise of Skywalker as a corrective of The Last Jedi. Other fans didn’t think The Last Jedi, or Tran in particular, needed to be corrected. What has been relatively absent in the conversation is Tran’s response —until now.
What was the big deal about Rose Tico?
The Last Jedi introduced Rose Tico as a mechanic working on one of the Resistance ships. Her sister dies heroically in the bombing run that opens the movie. Rose doesn’t take it too well when she thinks that Finn is trying to run away from the ship. Although the duo gets off on the wrong foot, the two team up to find a codebreaker who can help them stop the First Order from attacking and ultimately destroying the Resistance fleet.
By the end, Rose and Finn seem to develop almost a romance of sorts. Near the end of the movie, she saves Finn’s life by stopping a suicide run on the First Order bearing down on the resistance base. She tells him, “We’re going to win this war not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love!”
So when Finn invites Rose to join them on a mission in The Rise of Skywalker, fans groaned when she said she couldn’t because she had to stay at the base to help Leia. To many fans, this seemed like a transparent attempt to get Rose out of the way.
How did the filmmakers explain her absence?
Debates raged, as they always do with Star Wars, about how Rose was included or not included. After her introduction in The Last Jedi, Tran was subjected to racist trolling— so much so she fled from social media. When Rise of Skywalker seemed to go out of its way to minimize her, some people took that as a tacit endorsement of the racist trolls.
Co-writer Chris Terrio insisted this wasn’t so, saying, “One of the reasons that Rose has a few less scenes than we would like her to have has to do with the difficulty of using Carrie [Fisher]’s footage in the way we wanted to. We wanted Rose to be the anchor at the rebel base who was with Leia. We thought we couldn’t leave Leia at the base without any of the principals who we love, so Leia and Rose were working together. As the process evolved, a few scenes we’d written with Rose and Leia turned out to not meet the standard of photorealism that we’d hoped for. Those scenes unfortunately fell out of the film.”
Fans didn’t buy it. Terrio tried to walk back those comments. Even John Boyega stepped in it when his comments about Rose seemed to imply that she and/or Tran were weak. Boyega apologized for what he said was a poor choice of words. Poor choices abound when it came to Rose.
What does Kelly Marie Tran have to say?
When Tran appeared at the Oscars to introduce a presenter, more than one person joked that the Academy gave Tran more screen time than The Rise of Skywalker; which, by Screen Rant’s calculations, gave her all of 75 seconds.
Before the Oscars themselves, Tran addressed Rose and Episode IX on the red carpet, playing the good soldier/diplomat. She explained that she felt good about how her character’s journey ended. She said. “I think the best lesson I’ve learned was to have fun and be present in the moment. So I’m really grateful that I got to be a part of it.”
Debates will rage for years about how well Episode IX did or didn’t stick the landing. But however much time Rose Tico did or didn’t get Tran can say she was in two Star Wars movies and got a lot of attention for doing it. That’s more than most people can say.
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