Landing a role in a Star Wars movie is a bigger challenge than one might think.
Kelly Marie Tran is discussing how she got the role of Rose in The Last Jedi and she had to endure a stunning level of secrecy that made the actual audition process one of the most challenging of her career.
The actress also addressed her feelings on the treatment of the character in the final film.
Tran landing the Rose role
Tran had only appeared in a few movies before gaining global prominence as Rose Tico in The Last Jedi. The mechanic aids Finn in a mission for the Resistance and romantic tension between them.
The role turned out to be a sadly divisive one as Tran faced a backlash online so huge that she quit social media.
There was also controversy as after becoming such a prominent figure in The Last Jedi, Rose was mostly sidelined for Rise of Skywalker.
Speaking to Collider to promote the Blu-Ray release of Raya and the Last Dragon, Tran discussed the secrecy involved in simply landing the role.
“I remember getting an email, just like you normally would for an audition, but the email said the project was ‘The Untitled Rian Johnson Project,’ which after a little bit of light Googling, it was pretty clear that he was doing Episode 8.”
Arriving at the audition location, Tran had to endure a process including ensuring secrecy by barely giving her any idea who her character even was.
“We didn’t get sides to prepare. They wouldn’t even let you have them. So we would get to the audition, and then you’d be given these sides that were printed on red paper so that you wouldn’t take them with you.”
She continued, “It was essentially a cold read, was the first audition. And I remember the character description said, ‘20s, female, character-y,’ and that was it. You didn’t really know anything about it. So yeah, it was wild. I will say, the best thing that I did was probably just try as much as possible to be present in the moment and pay attention to what the scene was about, as opposed to trying to act a genre or play to a specific universe if that makes sense.”
Tran’s words mirror those of Michael B. Jordan, who admits he blew his own Star Wars audition as it was difficult to read for a character with almost no idea who they were or what the scene was about.
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Tran and the Rose backlash
Tran did get a bit more detail on Rose, including which scenes she read for.
“There were two scenes and one of them was a scene between myself and John Boyega, Finn. It’s the casino scene where we’re looking for the Master Codebreaker and then the sort of monologue scene where Rose is talking about wanting to put her fist through this lousy, beautiful town.”
As it happened, these are two of the best Rose scenes in the movie, and Tran’s work there aided her in winning the role.
The actress did acknowledge how it hurt to see Rose being given less than two minutes of screen time in ROS. While she didn’t call out writer/director J.J. Abrams or Lucasfilm, Tran admitted it hurt but understood it wasn’t her fault.
“It’s hard. I think as an actor you don’t really have control over what is happening in a narrative if that makes sense. And I think as an actor and as an individual, I always try to take my expectations out of the situation because I also want to, as much as possible, try and be present in the experience.”
She continued, “I am really, really proud of the way that I’ve been able to show up for myself during this whole journey because, again, if we’re going through my journey and my career, I went from sketch comedy and doing improv and indie theater to then doing Star Wars and then from there doing [Raya].”
Tran was praised for her voice work in the successful animated Raya film and her advocacy for Asian-American representation in film.
While her experience was rough and landing the role was tricky, Tran appears happy to have taken part in the Star Wars experience in any way.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Raya and the Last Dragon streaming on Disney+.