Star Wars’ universe is expansive, becoming bigger every year. The latest entry, The Last Jedi, releases this week and Kelly Marie Tran sat down to discuss her big role as the new tough gal in a galaxy far far away.
Developing Rose Tico for The Last Jedi
Tran plays Rose Tico, a resistance mechanic fighting against the First Order in their conquest for galaxy domination. The actress recalls by researching engineering books and podcasts for preparation, but also her family’s history.
Rose’s history is tied to war as is Tran’s Vietnamese parents, who are refugees from the Vietnam War. She explains that the stories and photos from that war helped to flesh out Rose.
Tran is a big Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fan but has never watched a Star Wars. By never watching the movies till after filming, she says she was able to develop Rose without any preconceptions.
“Should I make her more like this character within the universe or this character, I was sort of free from all that, which I think was the biggest gift I gave myself,” Tran said.
Star Wars panels can be like The Apollo. The crowd is vocal, cheering for something such as a set image of Luke’s shoelace and booing Star Trek references because two things can’t have Star in the name.
Regarding her panel experience, Tran says, “there’s nothing like walking on the stage” as she recognizes thousands of eyes locked on to her.
“I’ve felt this overwhelming support and that says a lot about people who love Star Wars,” Tran said. “Even though they haven’t seen me do anything yet, it’s like this overwhelming love just because I’m associated with something they love.”
From The Computer Screen to The Big Screen
The 28-year-old actress went from appearing in College Humor shorts on YouTube to landing a role in one of the biggest franchises.
Tran says filming The Last Jedi has taught her so much by going around the set to be “weird fly on the wall” in every department.
With an estimated budget of around $300 million, it is safe to say this is not some small indie flick. However, Tran would say otherwise thanks to director Rian Johnson.
“I never felt like I was making this historic film and that we had to feel all this pressure. I felt like we were just friends in someone’s backyard making a movie for our parents,” Tran said.
She lists collaborating with the cast being the most fun, since it made her never feel out place being the newcomer While the most difficult aspects of filming are focusing on the story and not geeking over things like C-3P0 or Carrie Fisher.
“You have to find a way to concentrate and also give yourself moments of oh my god this is crazy,” Tran said.
The Last Jedi marks Fisher’s last filmed role before passing last December. Although Tran only got know her, an impression was still left.
“Leia is such a groundbreaking character, especially when you think about when that first film came out and how there weren’t female characters like that,” Tran said. “What you see her do in this next movie is amazing and I’m going to cry thinking about it.”
What Makes Rose Special
Rose doesn’t have any force abilities; her superpower is not that she’s rich, an elite pilot or really good at galactic taxes. “For me, Rose represents the idea that if you really believe in something, just to fight for it,” Tran said.
Another ordinary Joe that can relate is Han Solo, a smuggler whose journey led him to become a hero, helping to save the galaxy.
A defining Han moment is when he’s being told they’ll die by flying the team into an asteroid field to escape Tie Fighters. He only replies, “Never tell me the odds” before piloting them to safety. Characters like this are what the actress likes and why she really connects the Rose Tico role.
“I love the idea that someone who fixes ships can still rise up when the challenge is introduced to her. No matter who you are, you can face adversity with strength,“ Tran said.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is set to release Dec. 15th and fans are anxiously waiting to see what happens next in the saga. Comment below on what your favorite film is and what you’re looking forward to in the new film.