‘Skywalker’ screenwriter explains why Kelly Marie Tran’s character was edited out

World Premiere Of Disney's 'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker'

It’s hard to believe that Carrie Fisher passed away just after Christmas in 2016. I was trying to go from memory, and I was like “was it last Christmas? The year before that?” No, three years ago. Everyone still misses her, and her passing still affects her last big project, Episodes VII-IX of the Star Wars franchise. She had not completed filming on The Last Jedi when she passed, and they had to do some CGI and manipulate some existing footage to complete that film. By now, I think it should also be clear that JJ Abrams, Rian Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy had no idea WTF they were doing with the new trilogy. They were truly just making it up as they went along. Trust me when I say that the half-assed nature of the stories and Carrie Fisher’s passing are connected. They’re connected to why Kelly Marie Tran was massively sidelined in The Rise of Skywalker and I just… I’m so tired.

A writer on The Rise of Skywalker is explaining the film’s handling of a character that some say was shortchanged in the new Star Wars film. Chris Terrio, who co-wrote the movie with director J.J. Abrams, was asked about the lack of screen time for Kelly Marie Tran’s character Rose Tico. The Resistance engineer was introduced in Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi where she had a major role in the film, but — spoiler alert — Tico spent The Rise of Skywalker back at the base and didn’t have many lines.

Terrio told Awards Daily that he and Abrams “adore” Tran and that the character’s role was originally more significant. Tran shot scenes where the character interacts with General Leia Organa, whose performance was created using Carrie Fisher’s deleted scenes from The Force Awaken. But the team ran into post-production difficulties making the Tico-Leia scenes believable.

“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 Fisher’s footage in the way we wanted to,” Terrio told Awards Daily. “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.”

[From EW]

So… Carrie Fisher had already passed away when JJ and Chris Terrio sat down to write this script. They knew they were going to have to write around the Leia character significantly, or at least they should have known that, and they should have planned the script accordingly so that CGI Leia was used sparingly. But no – they wrote a bunch of scenes with CGI Leia and the Asian actress they wanted to marginalize, and whoopsie, all of those scenes had to be cut because the CGI wasn’t good enough. Absolute horsesh-t. They had the time, space and money to do something else and they chose not to.

Meanwhile, JJ Abrams wrote a role out of thin air and gave the part to his buddy Dominic Monaghan because of a bet they made on soccer. Because white bros amirite.

The European Premiere of 'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker' held at the Cineworld Leicester Square

'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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32 Responses to “‘Skywalker’ screenwriter explains why Kelly Marie Tran’s character was edited out”

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    • grabbyhands says:

      God, his explanation of his explanation just makes it worse.

      Pretty much all JJ Abrams had to do was come out and say “You know what? I hear you – I tried to make this move everything to everyone and it fell short and I wish we could have done better” and it would have been light years better than this. That would never happen of course because then a man would have to publicly admit that he screwed up, but still.

      Sending his lackeys out with a weak as hell excuse is just a really bad look for him.

    • Mo says:

      Yeah, Terrio sucks. I believe that they thought they were going to be able to have more CGI Leia than they did. That statement reads like it was written by a crisis PR person. Terrio is completely replaceable. The VFX team at ILM is not.

      Also, as CATS demonstrates so well, it is very possible for everyone to think that a VFX thing will be fantastic and achievable and then turn out not to be. Disney gets around this by shooting a lot of extra footage to begin with and then doing reshoots when the VFX doesn’t look as good as they hoped. With CATS the CGI was the whole thing, they had no backup and were screwed. Also, by casting stars, CATS backed themselves into a corner by not forcing the actors to wear motion capture suits. Hooper may have gotten away with a musical with “live” vocals, but CGI still needs those motion capture suits.

      However, the fault was keeping Rose at the base, so that her part disappeared when that storyline was dropped. Also, half of the appeal of live CATS was the theater kid extraness of it all and CGI CATS lost that entirely.

  1. Leriel says:

    “Absolute horsesh-t. They had the time, space and money to do something else and they chose not to” – agree with you. They wrote her off because offended reddit, but people still get offended, so they are trying to break this circle, while movie underperforms heavily. Welcome to hell, JJ, you deserve it. And who decided that writer of Justice league is a good choice for star wars.

  2. wildwaffles says:

    The movie was so awful. I was just having this same conversation with my husband this morning about CGI Leia. It felt weird and kind of exploitive to see her on the screen so much. She didn’t get the chance to make the decisions on how to act and present Leia in this film, that was all in the hands of other people who were not as connected to the character. It made me uncomfortable to see how easily an actor’s likeness can be taken over and used in a film without their input. I didn’t like it at all.

    • sassbr says:

      She wasn’t CGI, it was previously filmed footage from TLJ repurposed For this movie. Her family is on the record saying that Fisher would have approved a CGI version of herself and they did too. They already had to rewrite the script to accommodate her death because she played an even more prominent role in this movie, so let’s not exacerbate what was probably a very difficult and painful process for the filmmakers and her daughter, who appears in the movie frequently, sometimes speaking to her mother. They did what they could to not ignore her character and give her an emotional send off with limited resources.

      • S says:

        They didn’t rewrite the script. The didn’t even START writing this movie until long after Fisher had passed away. Heck, the writer and Abrams weren’t even HIRED for this movie until after Fisher had been gone for NINE MONTHS. These things are public record.

      • Mia4s says:

        She died when Rogue One was in theaters. I remember very clearly the second time I saw it on New Years Eve there was this amazing, spontaneous outburst of applause and emotion from the audience when young Leia appeared at the end (One of my top “going to the cinema” moments by far).

        That was as others have said at least nine months before these two even came on Rise of Skywalker!

        The rewrites and “rush” had far more to do with firing Colin Trevarrow, than what happened with Carrie.

      • Veronica S. says:

        Fisher tended to be pretty pragmatic about this stuff, so honestly I don’t think she would’ve been offended by it, but it’s still…offputting. Mainly as a reminder of how Leia is a character who quite honestly was never given her due, how Fisher was never given the material she deserved for it, and TLJ now has to live with the legacy of wasting what little time she had left to have her do nothing more than sit around looking sad or being literally unconscious.

  3. sassbr says:

    Ok so I’m a huge Star Wars fan and I’ve seen Rise of Skywalker in theaters twice now. I’m not mad about Rose Tico tbh.

    Rose isn’t speaking much but she is seen pretty much every time they go back to Resistance base. Monaghan is literally no more than an extra, he has like two lines maybe. He’s, believe it or not, instantly recognizable. So it feels like he’s in it more than he is. They would have had that extra in there no matter what to fill out the cast for Resistance base, they just happened to give an extra’s part to a celebrity. Greg Grunberg is there as well as Billie Lourd.

    So a lot of fans are not too mad that Rose gets sidelined in this movie, it’s a vocal minority. Yes, it’s unfortunate that the first prominent Asian actor was sidelined in the movie. And the treatment the actress got after TLJ was disgusting. But to be frank, her character got
    More screen time in the second movie than Oscar Isaac and the same amount of time as Mark Hamill, and the movie suffered for it because the B-plot was not popular. Nothing on the character or the actress, from a story and plotting standpoint.

    But if you see the movie, you can understand it’s definitely narrative structure because there is zero room to add another plot for her. The first two movies sidelined Oscar Isaac’s character and he’s supposed to be in the core cast. They do add new characters later in the movie but they serve a different function than Rose did. I understand it may seem strange to have her featured so prominently in the second movie and not the third but she was never part of the core cast and I do not honestly see how they could have included a prominent storyline for her. For a solid chunk of the movie, they focus entirely on Rey, Poe, Finn, Chewie, C3PO, and BB8 on the Falcon. They do like ten different things. Mix that in with scenes with Adam Driver’s character. Then the second half is dealing with The Resistance fighting and Rey and Kylo Ren and Bad Guy Jedi/Sith stuff. It is already a very bloated movie. A big comment about this movie is that it feels like it was two movies worth of story and plot pushed into one, because so much happens. I was not at all mad that they didn’t feature her more because in the context of what is being shown, It’s understandable.

    • Anna says:

      While I don’t disagree with you that there wasn’t room for an additional Rose-centric plot as the movie stands now, I’m not sure we can make the case that the movie couldn’t have been streamlined and Rose worked into a more straightforward plot. As you said, there was way too much happening plot-wise (to the point where a major antagonist gets introduced in the opening crawl but was never mentioned in either of the first two films.) That’s sloppy writing, IMO.

      For whatever reason, Abrams and Terrio seemed to have a particular plot they wanted to cram into this film, even though TLJ apparently didn’t provide the set up they wanted. Abrams basically ignores as much of that film as possible. Among many other things, that meant Rose getting shafted. I wish Disney had required the same team and director to work on all three films, and I honestly wish Abrams hadn’t been involved. He’s great at set up but not so great at follow through.

      • sassbr says:

        Every plot element they had however, was more important to the saga than whatever was going on with Rose. I liked this film more than TLJ because a great deal of TLJ is devoted to nothing that advances the plot in any way. The entire Canto Bight sequence as well as Finn and Rose getting on to the First Order ship contributed zero to the emotional development of the characters or the overall plot. Finn’s arc was the same as TFA so by extension, Rose and that whole plot was superfluous. If anything, J.J. Abrams has to make up for lost time from that movie, which is why he had to cram two movies worth of plot into one movie. And I’m glad they brought J.J. back instead of sticking with Colin Trevorrow, who was originally going to helm this movie.

      • Anna says:

        @Sassbr: Regardless of why Abrams has to cram so much plot in (whether it was due to Rian Johnson going in a different direction than Abrams wanted in VIII, or simply that they didn’t have some of the plot planned out when they did VII), Episode IX still a super convoluted movie, and honestly should have been cut down and streamlined. If they had laid the seeds for some of the revelations earlier in the trilogy, I think it would have worked. But they didn’t pace the trilogy well, and it shows in the last movie.

        It’s okay for us to disagree, its not my intention to make you or anyone else feel bad for enjoying it. I just think the Rose character getting ignored was a symptom of a larger issue.

    • Rae says:

      I agree with you @SASSBR

      I really disliked the Rose side plot, which in my opinion did nothing for the story arc, but have nothing against the actress. I would have disliked it regardless of the actress or actor playing.

      Whilst I noted how small a role the Rose character had compared to the last outing and recognised that it’s probably a by product of the kick back, I don’t miss the character and I’m not upset that Rose has less lines.

  4. Mia4s says:

    Sigh…what a clusterf**k this trilogy was.

    As a long time fan of Star Wars all I can say about this is mad love to the cast and crew of the Mandalorian. Thanks to Pedro and Baby Yoda for keeping my love of this franchise alive. 🤷‍♀️

    • Anna says:

      To be fair, I think the actors generally tried their best, especially Driver. He was by far and away the best actor in the movie, IMO. The plot was just a mess.

      • Mia4s says:

        Oh I don’t blame the actors at all. They were all very good and very good sports. Unfortunately the poorly planned story left me mostly indifferent to their characters. That’s a shame.

    • detta says:

      Same here; I have basically decided to ignore the new trilogy from here on out. It’s the old stuff and Rogue One for me aaaaand now the Mandalorian. That show basically saved my SW future, love Baby Yoda and Pedro and the show just looks and feels so great. You would think money can buy these sort of things, but I guess having people with the right minds and hearts working on a show counts even more (looking at you Favreau and Feloni). I also like the director’s approach they have taken so far.
      Last week I watched the first episode of The Witcher and was terrified at how bad and cheap it looks; where in the world did all that money go Netflix injected into this? Bad CG, bad acting, confusing script. I generally find Cavill super bland, boring and wooden, but he was the best thing about it (using the term best loosely here). I had planned to watch a few episodes that night and then found it so so bad I went and straight binge rewatched The Alienist lol!

  5. Yvette says:

    I didn’t bother seeing this film because the first two were so bad and were nearly exact copies of the original three films, only with main character genders switched from Luke to Rey. The worst was the second film, The Last Jedi. Say what you will about Jar-jar Binks and the middle three films The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith, but at least George Lucas created three original films and gave us the awesome Darth Maul. JJ Abrams simply remade Lucas’s first three films, with the same story arcs, and in my opinion miscast Adam Driver. Kylo Ren is no Darth Vader or Darth Maul and seems more like a kid playing dress up as a villain whereas Darth Vader and Darth Maul were the real deals.

    Though Star Trek is my main jam, I have always been a huge Star Wars fan and wanted to love these new films. I was in the audience in 1977 when “New Hope” premiered and had the biggest crush on the Luke Skywalker character. I was hoping for a new crush. 🙂

    • Case says:

      “Kylo Ren is no Darth Vader or Darth Maul and seems more like a kid playing dress up as a villain whereas Darth Vader and Darth Maul were the real deals.” I believe this was very much the intention. He’s trying to live up to a legacy he’s not confident he can uphold and is torn in half between the darkness and the light. A confused boy in a mask is what they were aiming for here.

    • Veronica S. says:

      I think the position of Ren as an inferior copy of his predecessors was intentional. They just didn’t bother to use that in any interesting way story-wise. I had hope of hope for the sequels after TFA because, okay, sure, it recycled a lot, but maybe we were just setting the stage to diverge into something new, something interesting. I thought, if anything, adding voices other than Lucas’s to the series couldn’t do anything but help it along – he gave us a very defined story and vision, imperfectly told but elegant spun, so let’s see how a new generation can put a spin on it.

      Hoo boy. Did I underestimate how badly they could mess this up. Every screenwriter involved in these movies needs to be sent back to a 101 writing class STAT.

  6. Candikat says:

    Dominic Monaghan! That’s who that was! As a relative layperson/non-superfan all I can say is that seeing his close-ups in the crowd scenes was so jarring it took me out of the experience. I kept thinking “wait, was that a hobbit? Are there hobbits in Star Wars?”

  7. Rae says:

    I seem to be in the minority that enjoyed the film.

    • Franklymydear... says:

      I liked it too! It was better than the Last Jedi, to me, and I was so bored by the Rose side story. I was glad to have Kylo Ren, Rey and Finn have more screen time. I guess this site is meant for complaining, hence the name, but I get a little tired of ignoring the good stuff to focus on the negative. Rey is an awesome lady Jedi who slays with a light saber…we never got that in any of the previous 6 movies. Not sorry they sidelined a lame character a lot of people didn’t care about.

    • Case says:

      No, the people who dislike it and nitpick just tend to be loud about it. I personally loved it!

    • CanukFoodie says:

      I liked it too. I have watched SW since I was a kid and have always been a huge fan. The actors are great – regardless of the script – there is a lot of talent in these last 3 episodes. I had heard about the Rose issue going into it, so kind of kept in my mind, but really…for a character that was introduced in the 2nd to last episode of the series, I think it was ok- I really didn’t care for her that much in the previous one but I like the upgrade of her in this one. I actually liked the idea of her being with Leia as a right hand woman! I sure don’t begrudge anyone a cameo in these films, there will be nothing like them ever again. Im sure people didn’t look at the Sith episodes with Sam Jackson and be all like: Oh look, theres **** Insert any SLJ Character! If this movie had veered away from the central characters of Rey, Poe ect , C3PO etc. I would have been SUPER pissed. They are the ones who the story is about, they are the ones that need to finish it. I didn’t even know I was going to see Luke & Han again, but when I did, I was thrilled. I do agree that they really jammed a lot into this time frame, but it still fits the original story telling style of the first 3. I would see it again and Im sad that a dynasty has come to an end, but I can always watch them again, and enjoy for many years to come.

  8. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    I didn’t see this movie, but who are Dominic Monaghan and Kerri Russell? Did we need those two new characters when Rose (maybe) could have taken their place in the narrative? I call b.s. on the “we WANTED to include Rose . . . ” when they made Rose do nothing, yet continued to introduce new characters.

    • Ally says:

      And don’t forget schlub guy from Felicity as well. Three of Abrams’ friends shoehorned in (though Keri Russell was remarkably good with only her eyes showing), but no room for Rose, no siree.

    • North of Boston says:

      I’ve seen a theory floated that they are setting up some spin off characters for some new Disney project, or Disney + thing.

      Then again, maybe JJ just felt like sticking some people he worked with before into the film. But maybe a better filmmaker could have done that without creating a “wait, what?” moment in the movie.

  9. Case says:

    I thought Rose’s involvement in the latest film was fine. She was never part of the core group to begin with, and they really had to give most of the screen time in the final installment to Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo. As another poster said, yes, they had Keri Russell and Dominic Monaghan, but she played a totally different role and Dominic was literally an extra. I don’t see how else they could’ve used Kelly Marie’s Rose, really.

    This film honored her actions in TLJ by showing how she’d not only moved up in rank but also was clearly more confident and comfortable as an important player in the Resistance. I thought that was awesome. I have no problem with the character at all, and I completely understand the importance of representation, as I can’t help but tear up every time I think about how utterly incredible it is to have such a phenomenal woman protagonist in Rey. But when I went in to see this movie, I honestly wasn’t like “oooh I wonder how Rose’s story will continue!” and I think that’s…reasonable? They did what they could given the story they wanted to tell. There are already talks of the director of Crazy Rich Asians wanting to direct a Rose Tico show for Disney+.

    Personally, I loved Rise of Skywalker. We can all theorize about what the best ending to the saga could’ve been, but I thought it was a beautiful, appropriate, and neatly tied-up ending for the nine-episode series.

  10. Cat says:

    In a franchise that spanned over 40 years, why would they focus on Rose? Luke, Han,Leia, CP3O, Lando, The Emperor ect. all got a moment to shine. Their characters deserved and warrant it. Rose has moved up in rank and was a respected member of the crew. Her screen time was befitting her importance to the franchise.

  11. Veronica S. says:

    If you were able to cut the role down that much without it affecting the “plot,” it was never significant to begin with. It’s insulting on several layers, but it also highlights the faux progressiveness of these films in a very evident manner. The characters of color are positioned as significant to the plot but are continuously thwarted from being allowed to follow through on their evident stories.

    Example? TFA very obviously sets up Finn as a foil to Kylo Ren (child soldiers brainwashed by Snoke/First Order to do their bidding) whose paths diverged because of their choices (one breaks free/the other falls in line). What does TLJ do? Introduces Rose, who becomes the mouthpiece for the evils of war politics, undermining Finn’s role in the plot, turning him into a naive idiot who somehow forgot all of the lessons he learned in TFA and completely ignoring the odd rivalry between Poe and Kylo. (He’s a child soldier. WHY DOES HE NEED TO BE TOLD ABOUT THE EVILS OF WAR??) TFA sets up Poe as a surrogate son to Leia, clearly growing into the role of her successor. What does TLJ do? Decides to make him an immature, hotheaded idiot with vaguely sexist undertones, whose characterization is regressive. Rey goes on a journey whose character and plot motivations aren’t even well defined. Don’t even get me started on whatever Holdo was meant to be. Oddly enough, you know what character from the new cast winds up standing out best in definition and intent? Kylo Ren. I’m giving Driver’s performance credit for a lot of that, but there’s another glaring reason I don’t think I need to articulate as to why that may be.

    Abrams and Johnson both have their hands in this mess, but a huge part of the problem really is that second film that literally has almost no rational continuation of character or motivation from the first film, no clear vision that works across three films. Instead, we have three movies that feel like three entirely different stories being told, with characters whose journeys feel consistently interrupted and restarted or ill-defined. Drives me a wall. Christ, *I* could’ve a better story arc than these two geniuses, and I don’t have a fraction of Disney’s financial power behind me. People need to stop giving Disney the benefit of the doubt when it comes to representation. They don’t give a damn about POC or LGBT+ or anything like that. When you have the actors themselves unsubtly calling them out during promotions for ignoring the very obvious opportunity for a Finn/Poe relationship they were pushing for, you know they’re just there for the bait and cash in.