Kelly Marie Tran revealed in a new interview that she almost quit acting before making the cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Plenty of buzz surrounds the new characters in Rian Johnson’s follow-up to J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens, particularly those played by established actors like Benicio del Toro’s DJ and Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo. But Tran’s role as Resistance mechanic Rose Tico has been described as the biggest addition, as she will join Finn (John Boyega) on an important mission to help aid the Resistance.
Tran said in a previous interview that she had never seen a Star Wars movie prior to landing the role of Rose, and didn’t even watch them after getting her audition. She believes her lack of Star Wars fandom helped her because she wasn’t as nervous as she may have been had the franchise been more special to her. But incredibly, the actress also says that before The Last Jedi, she was close to leaving the acting business for good.
Speaking in a new interview with EW as part of the magazine’s expansive cover story on The Last Jedi, Tran revealed that she nearly quit acting before getting the role of Rose. About a year before she officially got the part, a then-25-year-old Tran seriously considered giving up her dreams due to the long, grueling days and nights she had spent grinding through her day job and creative endeavors. Here’s how she described her “twin suns moment”, as the story described:
“When I turned 25, I had been at it for some years and I was struggling to pay my bills. I was tired. I had been working [my day job] 40-plus hours a week, plus sometimes I’d have two auditions in the day and then I would write a sketch or do improv at night, or rehearse for the next auditions the next day. So, my days, I would get up at 5 a.m. and then I wouldn’t be home until 11:00 p.m. The days were like that for years. … I remember thinking, ‘This could be my life forever. Like, I could just never make it. I could work this hard for the next 20 years of my life and still be struggling.'”
The profile also delves into the audition process for Tran, who made it through several rounds of tryouts while working as an office assistant before Johnson gave her the good news. She described the “bizarre experience” of having to continue working without telling anyone about The Last Jedi, the “insane” moment of first seeing her action figure, and how “lucky” she is to be the first Asian-American actress to play a major role in a Star Wars movie.
It’s hard not to admire the persistence that Tran showed in working 40-plus hours a week to pay her bills while spending her nights working on acting. Based on her improv and comedy background and her scenes shared with Finn, who was one of the funnier characters in The Force Awakens, Rose will almost certainly lend some humor to the otherwise sinister-looking The Last Jedi. It’s safe to say that she won’t be quitting acting now.
As Rose, Tran has a good chance to be one of the sequel’s breakout stars. But she’s easily one of the least experienced actresses in the cast and will be surrounded by veterans and stars that already broke through in The Force Awakens. That could make her character hard to stand out, but there’s little doubt that she poured all of her obvious passion for acting into the performance after spending years working to earn her big break.
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