While Rian Johnson’s controversial middle act in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy set Rose Tico up as a major character in the Resistance, J.J. Abrams’ concluding flick brought her back for no more than a cameo appearance, leading many to wonder if the backlash to her role in The Last Jedi had anything to do with the decision to deliberately diminish her significance.
With the benefit of hindsight, we could indeed level criticism at Rose and her part in the narrative of Episode VIII, but these perceivable shortcomings of the script don’t justify the ludicrous amount of hatred that Vietnamese-American actress Kelly Marie Tran has had to suffer through.
Of course, the people involved with the making of Star Wars are more than familiar with such toxic behavior from certain parts of the fandom. Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best and Hayden Christensen both tolerated it for years, and even Jake Lloyd, who portrayed the child version of Anakin in Episode I – The Phantom Menace had to seek therapy due to constant bullying at school.
Tran, meanwhile, has recently received much acclaim for playing the titular protagonist in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, and in an interview with Collider, the thespian had to once again address the backlash to her presence in the sequels, saying the following about it:
“It’s hard. I think as an actor you don’t really have control over what is happening in a narrative, if that makes sense. And I think as an actor and as an individual, I always try to take my expectations out of the situation because I also want to, as much as possible, try and be present in the experience.”
Tran also explained how she managed to move on and find peace, stating:
“I just want people to know and believe that you might go through certain times in your life that are hard and difficult. But coming out on the other side of that and having your support group and being with people who believe in you, there’s nothing like it in the entire world.”
As has always been the case in its history, Star Wars inspires a certain degree of passion in fans, which also explains why every generation has had to deal with the same conundrum. Hopefully, though, diehard enthusiasts and creatives will finally manage to reach reconciliation at some point in the near future. Fingers crossed.