I was a guest of Disney & LucasFilm at the the Star Wars: The Last Jedi Global Press Event last week. All opinions are my own. This Kelly Marie Tran Star Wars Interview is part of my coverage of the #TheLastJediEvent. Interview photos are provided by Louise Bishop at MomStart.com
I have a confession, I meant to write this post on Thursday morning, prior to me seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I had a pretty strong idea of how I wanted to share speaking with Kelly, and I was worried seeing the film would sway that. It didn’t.
Kelly Marie Tran is going to change how we view women in Star Wars.
From her experience on auditioning for the part of Rose Tico to her performance in the film she is now someone that little girls will be looking up to.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi was one of the very first film auditions Kelly Marie Tran went on – after pursuing acting for about 7 years. Talk about perseverance. But because of this, it allowed her to be present and have fun. There wasn’t anything looming over her about whether or not she was going to get the part.
When she got the part of Rose Tico
I was still working my day job. I was working at an office. I was 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. Driving over to this meeting, and just feeling, like, how almost I feel now. I just have the goose bumps, and I was like either he’s gonna be, like, you have it, or it’s gonna be 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, picking up the book that was on the table and being, like, I’m gonna casually read this book. I’m so casual. And then Rian got there, and he was ‘Kelly,come on up’. And we go into this room. And at first there’s a little o’ small talk. How are been? What have you been up to? And then he says… I want to offer you this role. I had imagined this moment.
And just like that, things changed for Kelly Marie Tran.
I had imagined this moment for so long. I thought that I would be, like, so ecstatic, and I’d be jumping up and down. When it happened, I was so scared. I just was silent for a full minute. Like, I was just staring at the floor, like, oh my god! Like… I was treading water for so long, I never thought I would get to the end of the pond. Or the lake… 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. There was definitely moments of just being so horrified.
Keeping a big secret
When I finally got to set and I got to London after four months of not being able to tell anyone… 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. Finally when we were there, and we were just on set, it felt like home. Like, it felt like I was in someone’s back yard 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, like, really work with people.
This is perhaps the most important question from the Kelly Marie Tran interview.
It’s no question to any of us that Kelly Marie Tran has a special place in the Star Wars universe and the entertainment industry. After seeing the film last night, I think her presence is a game changer.
So 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. This idea that… I knew what it was like to grow up in a world where I never saw myself in anything. 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 an every woman, essentially.
And these people that 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, like, Po couldn’t go fight the First Order! So 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.
Playing Rose Tico changed Kelly Marie Tran
I love this character. I think that she’s amazing. I think that she’s different. I think that a lot of the things that she goes through in this movie, I relate to on a personal level. 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…
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, like, 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, I just think it’s possible, and I always have. But no, I believe that even more so.
We asked if she felt that Rose Tico was envious of not being out there?
So she has an older sister named Paige. Who is in the forefront of the action. She’s a gunner, and she finds alongside Poe, who’s, like, the hotshot pilot in the resistance. I think that there was probably always a part of her that secretly wanted to be part of that. But I also think she’s really good at what she does. She’s so good at what she does. I think that she knows, which is something I think is hard for people to realize.We live in this world where everyone wants whatever’s flashy. Everyone wants to be in the front.
Everybody wants this, this, and that. And I think Rose is one of those people that really does understand that those people who are out there on the forefront of the action cannot be there without everyone else behind them, right? You’d be fighting the First Order and your ship would just fall apart. I think, this is a metaphor for real life. A lot of the things that I’m doing now, like… You think I look like this in real life? (referring to her appearance at the interview) No way! Like, there are… There are four to five, six to seven people that get me looking like this. And it’s all the same thing!
I’m new to this movie world. A lot of times actors get so much credit for something that so many other people are working on. The way I look is, like, four or five people, and, and even this movie, Rian wrote it. All the people that created the sets, and the creatures, and, and the stunt team teaching us how to fight! LEveryone who’s kind of out there in the forefront in this, like, shiny place that everyone gets to see. There are hundreds of people behind them that put them there. I love that Rose is kind of this metaphor for that, and I think she understands that.
You won’t want to miss Kelly Marie Tran in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. She was pretty amazing. You’ll love her. Your daughters will love her. She’s honest and real, just check out our group photo with her. She wanted us all to have a good cry together. 🙂
Star Wars: The Last Jedi in theaters everywhere TODAY!
December 15th, 2017!