Rian Johnson reveals how the characters of Rose Tico and Vice Admiral Holdo were different in early iterations of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In stark contrast from other films in the franchise, Episode VIII was quite the smooth production, but there were still some tweaks made to the story. Shortly after the film hit theaters, reports indicated Rose and Holdo's respective subplots were the ones most impacted by reshoots, with Johnson altering key elements of each in an effort to improve the movie. These two sections of The Last Jedi are among its most hotly debated, so how successful Johnson ultimately was is open for debate.
Star Wars 8 is now available on home media, and one of the bonus features is a director commentary track where Johnson offers additional insight on the making of the film as it plays. Among the most noteworthy revelations were how Rose and Holdo evolved over time. If the filmmaker stuck to his initial plan, The Last Jedi would have been another movie altogether.
In Holdo's introductory scene (her speech to the Resistance), Johnson described the initial version of the admiral as "hippy dippy" in order to illustrate how her leadership style contrasts with others we've seen. Later on, he became concerned Laura Dern's performance was "too spacey" and decided to retool her characterization to make it stronger. Johnson maintains Holdo still has the "feminine energy" he envisioned, but it's simply dialed back so it doesn't become overbearing. What's interesting about this is that Holdo is a primary supporting character in the canon novel Leia: Princess of Alderaan, where these oddball qualities really shine through. The book depicts Holdo as almost Star Wars' answer to Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter, but those traits aren't as apparent in the movie. This could be chalked up to the fact Holdo is a teenager in Leia and an older woman in Last Jedi. People change as they age, as Luke Skywalker proves.
A previous reason given for the Holdo reshoots was to make her dynamic with Poe Dameron less antagonistic. While she didn't see eye-to-eye with the hotshot pilot, Johnson still wanted to make her a likable figure so her sacrifice had some weight to it. Both that and this temperament change seem like smart decisions. In The Last Jedi, Holdo was filling in for Leia and had to be believable as someone in command. Poe didn't agree with her methods, but there were those who followed her lead. The Resistance is supposed to be the vulnerable underdog, but it would be questionable even for them to place an off-kilter person in charge of the operation. Holdo needed some authority.
With Rose, Johnson had imagined her as a "grumpy, Eeyore type," but that changed in a huge way when Kelly Marie Tran was cast. The actress' upbeat personality and enthusiastic outlook influenced Johnson to rewrite scenes during production (like when Rose meets Finn) so the character was a better fit for Tran's style. In the commentary, Johnson explains he first made Rose "suspicious" of Finn, but reworked it to make her a big fan of the First Order defector. Rose is the one who inspires Finn's change of heart and makes him see the bigger picture, so this makes a lot of sense. Finn's arc might have been a harder sell if a sullen Rose was the angel on his shoulder telling him the Resistance's cause was worth fighting for. Admittedly, the Finn/Rose dynamic isn't entirely perfect in the finished film, but it still works.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now available on digital
Source - Star Wars: The Last Jedi Director Commentary
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019