Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico in The Last Jedi, reveals she never saw a Star Wars movie prior to her audition for the highly-anticipated sequel. The actress, who previously appeared in a variety of television series and shorts, is set to have her major breakthrough as Episode VIII‘s most prominent newcomer. One of the few details Lucasfilm has been willing to share about the Last Jedi plot is that Rose, a Resistance mechanic, teams with Finn on a mission that sees the two travel to casino city Canto Bight and infiltrate a First Order star destroyer. Other than that, Rose is largely being kept under wraps, with most of the marketing focusing on Rey, Luke Skywalker, and Kylo Ren.
Much like Daisy Ridley and John Boyega before her, Tran is about to take her first steps into a larger world, but few knew just how much of a change-of-pace this will be for her. In stark contrast from several of the people making new era Star Wars films (massive fans of the series), Tran was completely unfamiliar with the galaxy far, far away before being thrust into the part of a lifetime.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Tran recalled that she had never seen a Star Wars movie and still didn’t watch one when she landed her first audition (of five total) in 2015. Given how omnipresent the franchise is in the world, this fact is truly surprising, but it may have helped Tran in the long run:
“I didn’t have this expectation of what I thought this person should be like; I wasn’t trying to model her after someone I’d seen in a movie… And this is why, I’m telling you. The fact that I hadn’t grown up with Star Wars really helped me. I think I would have fallen over.”
Tran was obviously aware of what Star Wars was when she was called in to read for Rose (her high school English teacher was “obsessed” with it), but that lack of a personal connection allowed her to approach the audition as just another role to try out for. As Tran indicates, if she had an emotional attachment to the earlier movies, it would have impacted her performance during those fateful screen tests, perhaps making her tighten up out of fear of missing out. Instead, Tran was very relaxed and composed, making a strong impression with Rian Johnson. Though her involvement in Last Jedi wasn’t confirmed until February 2016 (when production began), Tran was cast as Rose in November 2015, a month before the sequel trilogy began.
Funnily enough, even when Tran became a part of the franchise, she couldn’t get a chance to see what it was all about. While home for the holidays, she suggested her family go see The Force Awakens in theaters, but that plan was shot down by her dad, who “hates movies like that.” Surely, his tune will change come this December, and the Star Wars fandom will gain a few new members ready to explore the galaxy.