Kelly Marie Tran, the actress behind the new rebel engineer Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, admits she was “mortified” when she first learned about receiving the role.
“It’s terrifying to be a part of something so much bigger than any person involved.”
Insisting she was “never made to feel like an outsider” or “a newbie,” Tran said everyone in the cast and crew were incredibly welcoming. Despite the large, epic scale of the Star Wars movie, Tran said it eventually felt “like you’re in someone’s backyard making a movie with friends.” But one moment still stands out to her as other-worldly.
“My first day on set C-3PO is there and Anthony Daniels gives me a hug in his C-3PO outfit.”
The performer said she “aimlessly wandered around set” when she wasn’t working to take everything in. Though this isn’t Tran’s first time acting, this is easily the biggest production she has been a part of. While she couldn’t open up too much about the Star Wars scenes she saw being filmed, Tran said she was “constantly geeking out.”
For Tran, the oversized jumpsuit her character wears in Star Wars: The Last Jedi is representative of her character. Complimenting all of the costumes and exclaiming her love for “SPACE JEWELRY,” Tran said costume designer Michael Kaplan and his team “were incredibly detail oriented.” The engineer puts practicality first, and it makes sense for a mechanic to wear a big outfit that is useful on the job.
“She isn’t trying to be pretty or like fun to look at, she’s just like ‘this is the suit I have to work in because I have a lot of stuff to do.’”
To explore the character a bit more, Tran studied up on the Vietnam War and how engineers think. The daughter of refugees from the Vietnam War, Tran thinks “Rose has a very specific relationship with war” and “used a lot of [her] true family history” when figuring out how to present those feelings on screen.
“I love the idea of having a problem that is seemingly unsolvable and then someone with an engineering mind comes in and thinks ‘ok, well this is how we logically deal with this problem, it’s just math. […] And that’s kind of the way Rose thinks.”
Despite the fact Tran is about to join one of the most popular franchises in the world, she insists her life hasn’t changed too much yet. Outside of group activities like the Star Wars cast traveling together to Jimmy Kimmel, Tran is happy she can still go out to Trader Joe’s or on runs without being noticed.
“I’ve gone to Target and bought my own action figure and tried to be obvious about it, but no one has ever recognized it.”
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15, 2017.