This trip was sponsored by Disney. This does not affect my opinions and they are 100% my own. I hope many of you will be seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi tonight. I am so excited to see it with my family. While I was in LA for the Star Wars press junket we were able to participate in the STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI press event experience as well as visit Disneyland during the Holidays + ride on the updated Star Tours – The Adventure Continues. If you haven’t read those yet – be sure to check them out and see all of the fun pictures!
We also have shared our interviews with Laura Dern (“Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo”), Gwendoline Christie (“Captain Phasma”) and Domhnall Gleeson (“General Hux”) in addition to our experience at the STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI press conference. There is so much great information and background on the movies and the characters, so be sure to read through them all. Today we are sharing our final interview with Kelly Marie Tran on her role as “Rose Tico” in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Kelly is so beautiful and genuine. I loved her interview. As she was getting settled she said “I am feeling a lot of emotions. I feel like I’m feeling every emotion on the spectrum. But it’s good. I’m just trying to take in every moment, and really be present here.”
Can you tell us how you got started in Star Wars?
Kelly : The first audition I had was back in 2015. And at this point, I had been pursuing acting for about seven years. And up to then, I… 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 was, like… 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, like, okay. 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.
There was none of this…I’m gonna get this. There was none of that. It was, like, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna get this. I’m just gonna have fun with the people who are here. I want to have fun with John at this test. I want to have fun with Rian in taking his direction. I think that that served me in the end. It was a five-month audition process, and it included a surprising chemistry with John Boyega. And then the final test was in London in full hair and makeup. There was this set that they had built. It felt like we were shooting the movie. And the whole time… And still now, I’m just still trying to be present in all of it.
How’d you find out you got the part?
Kelly : So 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 how almost I feel now. I just have the ggoosebumps and I was like, either he’s gonna be, you have it, or it’s gonna be, like, 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 being, like, I’m gonna casually read this book. I’m so, like, so casual. And then Rian got there, and he was, like, oh, Kelly. Come on up. And we go into this room. And at first there’s a little small talk. How are 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…(she pauses here and says I’m gonna cry right now)…after a few she continues…
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 edge 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, oh, this is what I’m gonna do when I get there. And so yeah, there was definitely moments of just being so horrified.
And then when I finally got to set and I got to London, I mean, 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. 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 really work with people.
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?
Kelly : 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. I would like to hope that in some way… this character is such an example 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 everyday woman, essentially.
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. And 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.
What is it like to be part of the Star Wars merchandise?
Kelly : Ooo! It’s bizarre. It’s really insane. I don’t know that I understand it at all. I feel like whenever I see something with my face on it, I’m just, like… That’s not me. It’s like a very… out of body experience. And because this movie hasn’t come out yet, and because I think I’m just very normal looking, and I dress very normal in everyday life, I’ve never been recognized outside of being in association with the cast. Like, if I’m at an event like this, obviously people are, like, she must be this person because she’s with that person. But other than that, everything in my life is really normal. Like, I run outside, and I go to the grocery store, and no one’s ever recognized me. Oh! But yes. Having merchandise, and, and things like that, it doesn’t register with me still. I don’t know that it ever will. I’ll have to let you know.
If you had a lightsaber in real life, what color would it be…
Kelly : Orange is my favorite color.
You’ve been trying to put yourself out there more. Walk us through that process…
Kelly : [OVERLAPPING] Yeah! Yeah, I absolutely can. I… So I… Like 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… myself. And I went to have this kind of, like, [SOUNDS LIKE] gray love moment, and sort of… 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 mean, I…I, 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… like, look at me! Look at me! Ladada! And I just… I 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… I think 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… unapologetically.
Oh. And… not being ashamed of who she was, and I think that I… I… 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. And I’m just, like… 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. So… I’m trying to do that, and I’ll let you know how it goes!
How has this role changed your life?
Kelly : 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. 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, like, personally, spiritually, it’s really changed the way I look at the world.
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 just think it’s possible, and I always have. But no, I believe that even more so. I also don’t know how to date…
Do you think Rose is envious of not being out there?
Kelly : She has an older sister… named Paige. Who is in the forefront of the action. She’s a gunner, and she fights alongside Poe, who’s the hotshot pilot in the resistance. So 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. And I think that she knows… Which is something… I think is hard for people to realize. Right?
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. And this is, I think, 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? No way! There are four to five, six to seven… There are a lot of 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! Everyone who’s kind of out there in the forefront in this 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.
What a great interview right? I love her perspective on things and how she is so down to earth. I wish her all of the best luck going forward in her career. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now playing in theaters everywhere. If you haven’t seen it yet – get your tickets and go! This is the perfect movie to take your family to for family movie night!
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