Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico.
Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico.
Image: Disney/Lucasfilm

Wait, where’s Rose? As anyone keeping up with the state of Star Wars discourse has undoubtedly heard, Rose Tico, the Resistance engineer introduced in The Last Jedi and played by Kelly Marie Tran, has a very small amount of screen time in The Rise of Skywalker. Like, compared to her role in The Last Jedi, where she’s a member of the lead cast, it’s absolutely miniscule.

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This has, understandably, made a lot of fans and onlookers upset, particularly since Tran herself was the victim of an awful harassment campaign for her role in the franchise. Now, Chris Terrio, co-writer of The Rise of Skywalker, has commented with a partial explanation for why Rose was so thoroughly sidelined.

“One of the reasons that Rose has a few less scenes than we would like her to have has to do with the difficulty of using Carrie Fisher’s footage in the way we wanted to,” Terrio told Awards Daily, via Entertainment Weekly. “We wanted Rose to be the anchor at the rebel base who was with Leia. 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 … 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. Those scenes, unfortunately, fell out of the film.”

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This explanation makes sense, but it still betrays a lack of consideration of Rose’s role in the film. In a situation where a character’s place in the franchise has been widely heralded as a win for diversity and touted by Disney as the beginning of a new era for the series, it seems more than a little ill advised to stake that character’s appearance in the film almost entirely on untested effects technology. Especially when that character’s absence, then, feels so much like validation for all the worst parts of fandom.

“The last thing we were doing was deliberately trying to sideline Rose. We adore the character, and we adore Kelly—so much so that we anchored her with our favorite person in this galaxy, General Leia,” Terrio continued.

Which, again, is not an entirely unfair position. But it’s worth noting that in the original trilogy, there was also a controversial member of the core group introduced in the second movie, who came from an underrepresented group and whose character destabilized the central dynamic in a way that was, at the time, pretty polarizing. That character was Billy Dee Williams’s Lando Calrissian, a character who has a good deal more screen time in The Rise of Skywalker than Rose has in the conclusion of her own trilogy. Even if it was an honest product of a crunched timetable and bad effects work, that still sucks.

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The Rise of Skywalker is out now.

Update, Dec. 30: Terrio released a statement to Vulture that walked back his “not [meeting] the standard of photorealism” explanation: “I badly misspoke if in an earlier statement I implied that any cut scenes between Rose and Leia were the fault of our VFX team and the wizards at ILM,” Terrio said, noting that the specific scene in question was actually “cut at the script stage before the VFX work was done” because “Leia’s emotional state in Episode VII did not seem to match the scene we wrote for use in Episode IX.” Read the full statement at Vulture.

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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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