Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams once praised The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson for introducing Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico to the Star Wars universe, calling it “the greatest thing” Johnson did. Yet Tran’s character reportedly received approximately 76 seconds of screen time within The Rise of Skywalker’s runtime of two hours and twenty minutes.
It became apparent to anyone who watched The Rise of Skywalker that Rose Tico, a main character in The Last Jedi, was benched throughout the new film. Slate writer Violet Kim watched the film with a stopwatch, noting every time Tico appeared on screen. Kim noted that she tried to be “as generous” as possible, including scenes like “at the end where she hugs Chewbacca at the Rebel base, although it’s possible to argue that she wasn’t quite in the foreground of the action.”
“I was so alert for any sign of Rose that I even included the part where she is only seen in (partial) profile staring intently at Poe while he speaks,” Kim wrote.
To compare, Tran’s character reportedly received around 11 minutes of screen time in The Last Jedi. In the last week, frustrated fans have started tweeting about the lack of Rose Tico, using the popular “#JusticeForRose” hashtag that first started after The Last Jedi came out in 2017. Though many people loved Tran’s character at the time, others bemoaned her inclusion in The Last Jedi. At the height of discord, trolls used Tran’s public Instagram account to harass the actress, leading her to leave the platform.
The level of harassment sent her way led Johnson and co-star John Boyega to publicly show support for the actress. Tran even wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times addressing the toxicity she faced online, specifically calling out the racist and sexist insults she saw as an Asian woman working in film.
“I know the opportunity given to me is rare,” Tran wrote. “I know that I now belong to a small group of privileged people who get to tell stories for a living, stories that are heard and seen and digested by a world that for so long has tasted only one thing. I know how important that is. And I am not giving up.”
It eventually seemed like the positivity for Tran’s Rose Tico outweighed the noise coming from a toxic fandom. People were excited to see more of Tico in The Rise of Skywalker, including the potential to watch Tico and Daisy Ridley’s Rey interact with each other — something they never did in The Last Jedi. They weren’t the only ones. Tran gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly just days before the cast watched the final cut, and spoke about her scenes with Ridley as a highlight.
“I think it’s really cool at all that they are even in scenes together because in Jedi we weren’t in any scenes together,” Tran said. “It was really cool to have feminine energy on set. I wish I could tell you more but I’m really excited for people to see [Rose and Rey] interact.”
Except they never really do. Rose and Rey don’t share any notable screen time together — at least the way Tran describes in her interview. The closest they come is as part of bigger scenes that feature other Resistance members on the jungle planet Ajan Kloss at the beginning and end of the film. Most of Rose’s moments happen on Ajan Kloss, with a brief appearance of the character helping out Finn and newcomer Janna in the final battle.
Many people have argued that Rose Tico wasn’t just sidelined in The Rise of Skywalker, but completely erased. The character Johnson set up in The Last Jedi simply didn’t exist in the trilogy’s final film. It even sounds like the character was supposed to have a bigger role, based on Tran’s comments. Whatever Abrams’ reasoning may be for not incorporating more of Rose Tico’s character, the greater discourse around the extenuating circumstances has become a bigger issue.
Tran’s character represented something larger within the Star Wars space. For many, she was a symbol of hope for a new generation of more diverse characters. To see her given such a small, almost non-essential role in The Rise of Skywalker after lifting her up as a key figure in The Last Jedi is devastating for so many fans. One fan has a possible solution, though.
Disney, the solution is simple:— Hector Navarro (@Hectorisfunny) December 26, 2019
Give Rose Tico her own Disney+ show. Eight episodes. New adventure. Love interest. Story fleshed out.
From the perspective Star Wars needs: the working-class everyperson winning by saving what we love. pic.twitter.com/735snv3p2X