Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico was introduced in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, making history as the first woman of colour and also the first Asian-American to be cast in a significant role in the “Star Wars” franchise.
Rose Tico returned for the sequel, “The Rise of Skywalker”, but played a minor role — so minor that her character appeared onscreen for just over a minute within the 142-minute feature.
In fact, Slate‘s Violet Kim took a stopwatch to a screening to tally up the total about of screen time afforded to Tran in the new movie, revealing she was in the movie for a grand total of 76 seconds.
This, Kim points out, is a significant reduction from the 10 minutes and 53 seconds afforded to Tran in “The Last Jedi”.
What makes the decision to all but write the character out of the film even more puzzling is the extreme racist harassment that Tran was subjected to after the release or the earlier film, leading her to exit social media and write an op-ed about her experience for the New York Times.
In her piece, Tran admitted the cyberbullying she experienced led her “down a spiral of self-hate, into the darkest recesses of my mind, places where I tore myself apart, where I put their words above my own self-worth.”
According to NBC News, neither Tran nor “The Rise of Skywalker” director J.J. Abrams has responded to a request for comment.
However, “The Rise of Skywalker” screenwriter Chris Terrio spoke with Awards Daily, and offered an explanation for Tran’s sparse screen time.
“Well, first of all, J.J. and I adore Kelly Marie Tran,” he said. “One of the reasons that Rose has a few less scenes than we would like her to have has to do with the difficulty of using Carrie’s footage in the way we wanted to. We wanted Rose to be the anchor at the rebel base who was with Leia. We thought we couldn’t leave Leia at the base without any of the principals who we love, so Leia and Rose were working together.”
Terrio continued: “As the process evolved, a few scenes we’d written with Rose and Leia turned out to not meet the standard of photorealism that we’d hoped for. Those scenes unfortunately fell out of the film. The last thing we were doing was deliberately trying to sideline Rose. We adore the character, and we adore Kelly — so much so that we anchored her with our favourite person in this galaxy, General Leia.”
Previously, “Crazy Rich Asians” director John M. Chu called for Tran to get her own Disney+ series centred around Rose Tico.
“Put me in coach. Let’s make this series happen,” Chu tweeted alongside the hashtag, “#RoseTicoDeservedBetter.”
Meanwhile, Twitter users are reacting to Tran’s marginalization in “The Rise of Skywalker”, sharing their scathing responses via Twitter. Here is a sampling: