Kelly Marie Tran may not be a household name now, but after the world gets to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi, they will come to see her as one of the best additions to the film franchise and her character as a hero. It feels almost surreal to see more people of color playing pivotal roles in something as iconic as Star Wars, and it means a lot to see cultures being represented in meaningful ways. So it should come as no surprise that Tran’s Rose Tico has one of the most important roles in The Last Jedi.
The up and coming actress had a chance to speak to members of the press at the Star Wars: The Last Jedi press junket last week, where she talked about what it was like to be a part of a franchise with such a massive fanbase, what to expect from her character, and the legacy of Carrie Fisher.
In The Last Jedi, Tran plays Rose Tico, a young maintenance worker in The Resistance. With The First Order fleet attacking the fractured Resistance group, Rose joins Finn and BB-8 on a mission that may help tip the balance of the war between the two factions in their favor. Though the cast couldn’t speak about the film – mostly because the press hasn’t seen it yet, they were able to talk about their experiences on set and what it meant to be a part of Star Wars.
For Tran, she had to find that balance of working on the set of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and realizing that she is working on the set of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. With C-3PO strutting and BB-8 rolling around, it can be hard not to be distracted by all the geek stuff that is happening on set. “You have to find a way to just do the work and kind of block everything out,” Tran said. “But when C-3PO walks out you’re all, gaah. You’re constantly figuring out how can I figure out how to work in this environment, and then you’re like, but also this is awesome. So it’s kind of a balance.”
But the actress felt an immense responsibility in bringing justice to the role. Especially since she would be following in the footsteps of the powerful female characters that came before her, like Padme Amidala, Jyn Erso, Princess Leia, and Rey. “I think that it feels like both an honor and a responsibility at the same time,” Tran said. “I feel like from the beginning when I initially found out I got this role, I just felt like I wanted to do the whole thing justice, and I’m so excited that guys, the girls in this movie kick some butt. Every single one is so good, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”
Tran spoke about the late Carrie Fisher, and how the actress’ reputation and personality, helped her become who she is now. “Something about Carrie that I look up to, and it’s something I didn’t realize until recently, it’s how much courage it takes to truly be yourself when you are on a public platform or when you are with possibly a lot of people looking at you,” Tran said. “She was so unapologetic, and so openly herself, and that is something I am really trying to do, and it’s hard.” She added, “I think that she will always be an icon as Leia but also as Carrie. What an example, you know? And I am so fortunate to have met her and I think that she will really live on forever.”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is rated PG 13 and opens in theaters on December 15, 2017.