Co-Writer of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” Explains Reduced Rose Tico Screen Time

The answer involves the limitations of working with existing footage of Carrie Fisher

Rose Tico
Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico.

Among the criticisms leveled at Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker since its opening earlier this month was the reduced role for Kelly Marie Tran’s character Rose Tico. Tran had a substantial role in The Last Jedi — and had to endure a grotesque amount of online harassment in the wake of that film’s release. Rose Tico is far less central to the plot in The Rise of Skywalker, leading some to speculate that the filmmakers were conceding a point to the most toxic elements of Star Wars fandom.

Chris Terrio, who co-wrote the film with J.J. Abrams (with Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow also credited for the story), has now offered his perspective on Tran’s smaller role in this film. As he contends in an interview with Awards Daily, the lack of prominence for Rose Tico this time around had nothing to do with Star Wars fandom — and everything to do with the difficulties of working around the absence of the late Carrie Fisher.

In the interview, Terrio stressed that both he and Abrams “adore Kelly Marie Tran” and that they’d planned for her to have a larger role in the film — specifically, one which dovetailed with a specific The Rise of Skywalker subplot.

“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,” Terrio told Awards Daily. But technical difficulties adversely affected that plan. “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,” he said. “Those scenes unfortunately fell out of the film.

This lines up with another report about the film’s production — specifically, an interview with Tran before the film’s release where she talked about having a scene opposite Daisy Ridley, which ended up not being in the finished version of the film.

In an era where blockbusters frequently exceed the 3-hour mark — The Rise of Skywalker is around 40 minutes shorter than Avengers: Endgame — it does open the door for the question of why Episode IX isn’t longer. In the interview with Terrio, he suggests he would also have liked to have seen a more expansive version of the film.

“Of course, as a writer, it breaks your heart to leave stuff on the table that you think would have given the story more depth and nuance and to give the characters more to do,” he said. “Speaking for myself and not on the part of the studio, I do wish there could have been a ‘Part 1’ and a ‘Part 2.’”

In the end, that theoretical extended version might have avoided some of the criticism the latest installment of Star Wars received — and made for a more satisfying film overall.

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