Exclusive Interview with Kelly Marie Tran “Rose Tico” in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
I was provided an all-expense paid trip to L.A to attend the Star Wars: The Last Jedi press junket. No additional compensation was received.
Can you believe we finally made it to Friday, which means Star Wars: The Last Jedi is finally in theaters everywhere! It also means that today, we get to share our last exclusive interview with the cast of the new film and today’s turn is Kelly Marie Tran who plays “Rose Tico” in the film. This newcomer to the franchise had actually never seen the Star Wars movies before she got the part. But hey, that’s just a snippet of what she told us when we chatted with her. So, let’s get started with our Exclusive Interview with Kelly Marie Tran “Rose Tico” in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
So, let’s find out more about this new character played by Kelly Marie Tran. According to the official Star Wars site, Rose Tico is “part of the support crew that keeps the Resistance starfighters flying and Rose has hated the First Order since she was a child. Now able to fight back against the enemy, Rose keeps her focus on her mission.”
Before we continue, I want to pause for a moment and tell you why this interview was so impactful in my life and YES, I cried like a baby when we chatted with Kelly Marie. As you can see from the image above, I wasn’t alone on that one! 🙂 As many of you know, my family and I migrated to the States when I was a teenager. Just like Kelly Marie, I was plenty aware of what Star Wars meant to a lot of people and this includes my parents. You see, I was only one year old when the original Star Wars movie premiered and my parents, especially my father, became instant fans of the original trilogy. As a teen, I barely paid any attention to the Star Wars franchise but then in my early twenties when I met my dear husband, who by the way is a HUGE fan of the Star Wars movies. Things kinda shifted and I certainly began looking at Star Wars with renewed eyes. I can tell you this much, nowadays I think I am now a bit obsessed with the whole storyline than my husband ever was. LOL, but that’s okay, we now have something more we can talk about.
So, going back to the whole why I cried while I interviewed Kelly Marie, well for once she is a lovely, down to earth, authentic woman! Secondly, because of my kiddos. You see my kids are first-generation Americans, it means the world to me to see such a huge entity like Hollywood embracing and including all different kinds of ethnicities backgrounds in their big blockbuster movies. So, yeah. Now I won’t delay more our Exclusive Interview with Kelly Marie Tran, so let’s get started.
The Audition Process & How She got her roll in the Last Jedi?
As I mentioned before, Kelly Marie was plenty aware of the Star Wars influence but was never a fan. So, let’s find out how Kelly Marie got started with Star Wars?
The first audition I had was back in 2015. And at this point, I had been pursuing acting for about seven years. For one reason or another, it took me years to just get a commercial agent, much less a theatrical agent. And then it took me years to begin auditioning for commercials. And then into TV. I never could get into the room for movies. This is probably one of the two or three movie auditions I ever was allowed to go to.
So that first audition came in, and I remember thinking, this is crazy. There’s no way I’m gonna get this. And so that feeling kind of traveled with me from the beginning to the very end. And it served me because I was so sure in my mind, and in my heart, that I wasn’t going to get it, that I was free to be present and have fun. I’m just gonna have fun with the people who are here. I want to have fun with John, like, at this test. I want to have fun with Rian. So, yeah. It was a five-month audition process. And it included a surprise chemistry with John Boyega. And then the final test was in London in full hair and makeup.
Pretty cool, right? But what happens when you get the part? What do you? Who can you tell? Kelly Marie had this to say:
I was still working my day job, I was working at an office, as an assistant. I got this email from my agent, or a call from my agent saying that Rian wanted to meet with me before the Thanksgiving break. This is November of 2015. I remember saying I had to go to lunch. And driving over to this meeting, and just feeling, almost I feel now. I just have the goosebumps. Either he’s gonna be, you have it or it’s gonna be, look, nice try kid.
Just wanted to say, good job. Which was possible! I was so nervous going to that meeting, and I remember sitting in the waiting room and picking up the book that was on the table and I’m gonna casually read this book. And then Rian got there, and he was, oh, Kelly. And we go into this room. And at first, there’s a little small talk. How are you been? What have you been up to? Dadadadada. And then he says… I want to offer you this role. And I had imagined this moment for so long and I thought that I would be so ecstatic, and I’d be jumping up and down. And when it happened, I was so scared. I just was silent for a full minute. I was just staring at the floor. I was treading water for so long, I never thought I would get to the end of the pond. Or the lake. Whatever it’s, I don’t know, I made that up just now.
I never thought that I would actually get there. And so I never thought this is what I’m gonna do when I get there. And so yeah, there were definitely moments of just being so horrified. And then when I finally got to set and I got to London, after four months of not being able to tell anyone. And just lying for so long to my parents and my family, I had to tell them I was living in Canada. I was working on this small movie that no one had ever heard of. And finally when we were there, and we were just on set, it felt like home. It felt like I was in someone’s backyard making a small movie with my friends. Which, says a lot more about everyone else involved than about me. Everyone was so welcoming and open. I don’t know that as an actor you could have a more fulfilling experience than that. Just the ability to collaborate, and really work with people.
Now, going back to Kelly Marie and Star Wars. This is the part that got me to tear up because I can totally relate to her parents’ journey. Kelly Marie had this to say about them and Star Wars:
I’ve heard Daisy say this, too. Star Wars is such a family thing. A lot of parents had seen the original movies. You know, passed on to their kids. My parents, when the first movies came out, were still in a different country. My parents are both Vietnamese refugees. They aren’t from this world at all. They don’t work in entertainment. This is a very weird thing that they’re having a real hard time understanding.
So growing up I didn’t watch Star Wars. I was aware of it. I never really saw it. And I think that that gave me this kind of wonderful freedom. When I was auditioning for this movie I never thought to myself, oh how can I make this more like something I had seen? How can I make this more like the characters that are so iconic to all these people? I had this gift of being able to look at that paper, and just be what I thought was honest. And what I thought Rian had written onto that paper.
Obviously, after you get it, you watch all these movies, and there’s nothing but just amazement for those original films. You watch them now and they’re still incredible, and how innovative they were during the time, and the idea that they were so groundbreaking when they first came out, I do think that they continue to do that in this film. In ways, this film will also be groundbreaking.
Diversity in Films Today
So, you guys this is the is the part where I really emotional and why? Well, because of diversity in blockbuster films like The Last Jedi.
The character of Rose has done so much for diversity in film and changing our perspective of Star Wars. What are you hoping that Rose’s character accomplishes once we actually see her in action, for yourself and for future Star Wars generations, who now have a strong female Asian role model to look up to?
I thought about that a lot. And it feels like such an honor, but also a lot of pressure. I knew what it was like to grow up in a world where I never saw myself in anything. And I would like to hope that in some way, this character is such an example of someone who doesn’t necessarily belong in this world. She works in maintenance. She works behind pipes all day. She’s not a star pilot. She doesn’t have magical powers. She’s not a princess. She’s someone who is just every woman, essentially.
You don’t necessarily see in these stories, but that are so crucial to the idea of the resistance. Without these people that are fixing the ships, Po couldn’t go fight the First Order! Of course, they’re important. But no one ever really sees them or talks about them. They’re always just running around in the background. If this character could mean anything, I really hope that she portrays the idea that even if you are someone who’s kind of in the background who’s not in the spotlight, who’s not a princess, you can still make a difference, and you can still rise up to any challenge that comes to you.
The Carrie Fisher Connection?
I can only imagine how life-changing it is to accept a role such as the one Kelly Marie plays on The Last Jedi. But what do you do once you realize how life-changing it is and who helps you along the way?
I said before, I never thought that I would be in a position where I would be in a movie like this, and then possibly have a choice in terms of what projects I did next. I never knew that I would have a voice. And so when I finished that movie, I ran away. For seven months I went to travel. And I went to have this kind of gray love moment, I think I really wanted to center myself, and really think about why I got into this in the first place. And what does that mean?
I tend to overanalyze everything, but I do think it’s important to consider what you put out in there into the world. There’s so much noise now. There’s so much of, look at me! Look at me! Ladada! And II didn’t want to be part of that noise if that’s possible. And I just remember thinking how scared I was. I wasn’t on social media for a very long time. And it’s because I was scared of being seen. And being honest in that way. And then I think that we talked about this before in the press conference, but I think that Carrie was such a great example of that, of just being seen always openly, honestly and unapologetically.
Oh. And not being ashamed of who she was, and I think that I want to try as much as I can to be that way. I think that we live in a world where we tend to hide a lot of our flaws, and we try to put on makeup, and dresses, and all these things. If we all just were okay, and open, with all of our insecurities, ’cause we all have them, and we’re all not perfect, then maybe the world will be better. I’m trying to do that, and I’ll let you know how it goes!
Embracing her role as Rose Tico
Finally, how did playing Rose Tico changed Kelly Marie?
I love this character. I think that she’s amazing. I think that she’s different. A lot of the things that she goes through in this movie, I relate to on a personal level. And I think that I always knew what I wanted. I always believed in it. I always believed that, if you work hard and you’re a good person, you will get where you want to go. I always believed that. But experiencing it is a whole different thing. And I think if you’re talking to me, personally, spiritually? It’s really changed the way I look at the world. Because I really want people to know that if your parents are not in this world, if you have no connection to it, if it seems impossible, if you’re working, four jobs to support it, you can’t pay off your student loan bill, if you’re worried about all that stuff and you still want to do this, and if you keep going, and you put your head down, you just ignore the parties, and ignore all the people that don’t believe in you, I just think it’s possible, and I always have. But no, I believe that even more so.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is NOW in theaters!
In Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of the past.