Why Rose Tico is Next to Invisible in ‘Star Wars: The Last Skywalker’

Published on December 31, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is baffling for a long list of reasons. The disappointing sequel, which is making bank but recently dropped 60% in its second weekend at the domestic box-office, made a series of clumsy, not bold, mistakes that left a whole lot more to be desired from the final entry in the Skywalker saga. An unsatisfying ending, to say the least. Worst of all, the director sidelined a pivotal new character for no satisfying reason whatsoever. 

Abrams Gave Rose Tico Nothing to Do 

One of the more confusing and distasteful decisions made by screenwriters J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio was nearly removing Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) from the sequel. She has no more than a few minutes of screen-time in the sequel after a major role in The Last Jedi, which set up a strong relationship between Finn and Rose.

This time, they barely interact. No acknowledgment of the intimacy, romantic or not, between them. It felt like a very conscious decision on Abrams’ part to reduce the character to almost nothing after gross fan behavior towards Tran, but according to Terrio, she had more scenes cut due to VFX.

The General Leia and Rose Tico Scenes 

When Finn asks Rose to come along the new journey with the original cast, she refuses and stays back at the base with Leia. They barely interact in the movie, but according to Terrio, that wasn’t the plan. They shot more scenes between the two of them but the VFX, supposedly, wasn’t convincing enough to portray the late Carrie Fisher. Here’s the explanation Terrio gave to Awards Daily

Well, first of all, J.J. and I adore Kelly Marie Tran. 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. 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 favorite person in this galaxy, General Leia.

Another Interpretation 

Terrio’s answer downplays just how disastrously Abrams and he handled the character. Adding insult to injury, actress Kelly Marie Tran was harassed by a large number of racist and/or rude Star Wars fans, who cried and tweeted like babies over their unhappiness over her role and The Last Jedi.

Tran’s page on the “Star Wars”-related Wookieepedia website was even altered to include a racist description of her character.

“Ching Chong Wing Tong is a dumbass f—— character Disney made and is stupid, autistic, and retarded love interest for Finn,” the page read.

It got ugly enough that Tran left social media last June after the attacks, writing an essay in The New York Times about her experience:

“Their words reinforced a narrative I had heard my whole life: that I was ‘other,’ that I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t good enough, simply because I wasn’t like them,” she wrote. “And that feeling, I realize now, was, and is, shame, a shame for the things that made me different, a shame for the culture from which I came from. And to me, the most disappointing thing was that I felt it at all.”

With her barely in the recent sequel, the movie plays as if Abrams was trying to satisfy those fake fans. That wasn’t his intent, of course, but that’s what’s in the content and how it plays. It’s a truly ugly part of a movie and franchise that should inspire hope, not disgust. 

Rey and Rose Rico Scenes 

Another problem with the CGI defense is that Tran said she was most excited for fans to see Rose and Rey interact in the movie for the first time. And they don’t. Maybe they cross paths once or twice, but there are no meaningful scenes between them at any point in the movie. Any rando resistance fighter could’ve played Tran’s part in the sequel.

The soldier had a great arc in The Last Jedi, she represented the best of Star Wars heroes, and she shared more chemistry with Finn than Rey. Despite their past together, Abrams gave her nothing of serious consequence to do, yet paid great time and attention to half-baked nostalgia and redundant side characters.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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