We defy you not to be ut­terly charmed by Star Wars break­out Kelly Marie Tran.

Kelly Marie Tran ex­plores a galaxy far, far away.

ELLE (Canada) - - Insider -


min­utes as I wait for a pub­li­cist to patch my call through to Kelly Marie Tran; the muzak play­ing is “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana— an un­usu­ally stir­ring (but very Dis­ney) de­tail. Turns out, she’s hear­ing the same thing.

“I lit­er­ally laughed so hard lis­ten­ing to that,” says Tran after we con­nect, still gig­gling. She h

then con­fesses that the an­i­mated hit fea­tured heav­ily on her playlist a few months ago, although she’s more into the Dear Evan Hansen Broad­way cast record­ing th­ese days.

Tran’s name might not be im­me­di­ately fa­mil­iar to you, but just wait for De­cem­ber 15. That’s when the lat­est in­stal­ment of the Star Wars fran­chise, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, hits the­atres and when Tran, a Viet­namese-Amer­i­can, will make his­tory as the first ma­jor char­ac­ter played by an Asian woman in the saga. Although de­tails about her char­ac­ter, Rose Tico, have been guarded more tightly than an Im­pe­rial Prison, we do know this: She’s a re­sis­tance fighter/me­chanic who be­friends John Boyega’s ex-stormtrooper turned galaxy saver. Rose is also de­scribed as a bit of a “no­body,” which could ap­ply to Tran her­self—be­fore this, the San Diego na­tive’s big­gest on­screen cred­its were some videos for Col­legeHu­mor.

That’s why the Moana “on hold” mu­sic feels eerily on point: This is kind of Tran’s stand­ing-on-the-beach-look­ing-out-at-the-wide-ocean mo­ment, and this 28-year-old is em­brac­ing it with joy, gusto and in­tel­li­gent good hu­mour that feel very Dis­ney princess-like... circa 2017.

Were you brought up on Star Wars? “No, I wasn’t! I think that not see­ing the movies ac­tu­ally helped me. I could take my­self out of the sit­u­a­tion when I was au­di­tion­ing and cre­ate the char­ac­ter. Once I got the part, I watched all of the movies, read as much as I could and went on all of the mes­sage boards.” What dark cor­ners of the In­ter­net did that take you to? “I was ev­ery­where. I’ve been on Red­dit and Mak­ing Star Wars [a mega-fan web­site], and I saw Twit­ter ac­counts cre­ated by peo­ple so that they can tweet one another and role-play as the char­ac­ters. I love it. I’m ag­ing my­self, but I wish Twit­ter had been around when I was 10 so I could have done things like that. But it has been so cool to see pic­tures and things com­ing out in the press and ev­ery­one try­ing to fig­ure out what this or that means. It’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing!” The Star Wars uni­verse has got­ten pro­gres­sively more di­verse, and your char­ac­ter is a ma­jor part of that. “I just know that when I was younger, there were very few peo­ple who looked like me in movies, so I know how much it would have meant to me [to see this char­ac­ter]. I feel the pres­sure of do­ing right by the fran­chise, and then, out­side of that, I also feel like so many peo­ple are ex­cited about an Asian per­son be­ing in the movie. It’s ex­cit­ing, but I don’t take it lightly. Star Wars is some­thing that so many peo­ple have loved for so long, and I un­der­stand how im­por­tant th­ese sto­ries are. Sto­ry­telling is the one true love story in my life, and it’s got­ten me through so much.” Take me back to your first day on the set. “First of all, walk­ing onto a set like that, where ev­ery­thing is built and looks real, is a whole other thing. It’s such a crazy feel­ing, be­ing in full cos­tume and makeup and look­ing up and see­ing ‘Finn’ and all th­ese char­ac­ters that peo­ple love. I re­mem­ber feel­ing like I was about to play the Su­per­bowl, like I had to go into ‘game mode’ and not ac­knowl­edge all th­ese things while I was work­ing—I couldn’t let my­self freak out. And then when I’d go home, I was like, ‘OMG!’” Did you get to know Daisy Ri­d­ley and John Boyega be­fore you met them as “Rei” and “Finn”? “I got to hang out with both of them be­fore we started shoot­ing. To have peo­ple like that on your side, who’ve al­ready gone through what you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, is so com­fort­ing. Daisy was so wel­com­ing to me, and she didn’t have to be. That was the coolest thing: Ev­ery sin­gle per­son on that set was a very lov­ing, open hu­man be­ing, and that is not some­thing you can say about ev­ery movie. I mean, this is my first big pic­ture so I’m just as­sum­ing!” Did you make any new-kid mis­takes along the way? “I was prob­a­bly mak­ing them all the time, but ev­ery­body was so nice they weren’t telling me. I mostly just watched other peo­ple do things and then I’d be like, ‘Cool. That’s what a mark is’ or ‘Okay, so that’s what a stand-in does.’” What were you do­ing be­fore you got this part? “I was work­ing as an as­sis­tant in an of­fice to sup­port my act­ing ca­reer. I did that for a long time.” Was the day you got to quit that gig the best ever? “Any­time you want to be do­ing some­thing with your life but you’re not, and you’re just do­ing some­thing as a means to an end, you’re count­ing down the days. That’s not to say I didn’t make friends do­ing that job! I ac­tu­ally re­mem­ber that on the day I got the part, I had to go back to work and couldn’t tell any­one. I had to fin­ish the day as if noth­ing had hap­pened. I an­swered emails and took phone calls. But, yeah, the day I did quit was pretty his­toric.” n

Tran and her Star Wars: The Last Jedi co-star John Boyega

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