Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams "adores and respects" Rose Tico actress Kelly Marie Tran, who many felt was sidelined in Skywalker after appearing as a more prominent character in Rian Johnson's preceding episode, The Last Jedi. Fans were incensed further when it was learned Abrams' friend and past collaborator Dominic Monaghan, who appears briefly in Skywalker as Resistance fighter Beaumont Kin, won his role as result of a bet made with Abrams over the outcome of a soccer match. Abrams' co-writer Chris Terrio recently addressed Tran's diminished screentime, explaining several of her scenes were cut when Skywalker experienced difficulties over its use of footage featuring the late Carrie Fisher, whose appearance was made possible through unused scenes cut from Abrams' own The Force Awakens.
"As I've said elsewhere before, there were a couple of scenes that we shot with Rose that I wish had made it to the final cut. You'd be hard pressed to find a screenwriter who doesn't wish that all his scenes were treated as inspired gospel and ended up in the film exactly as written," Terrio explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "But it's the nature of the process that certain scenes fall out of the film, and I very much respect the difficulty of the decisions J.J. had to make, wearing both his screenwriter hat and his director hat — especially given that I know for a fact that J.J. adores and respects Kelly and would have loved to keep every second he shot with her in the film."
Abrams and Terrio also refuted suspicions parts of Skywalker took swipes at Johnson and Last Jedi, with Terrio saying nothing in Skywalker was representative of Abrams having an "argument" with Johnson. And by the time of Skywalker, set one year after Last Jedi, the final chapter of the sequel trilogy "shows Rose changing, growing, evolving."
"Rose begins her journey in TLJ as just about the lowest person on the Resistance totem pole. In TROS, Rose is at the right hand of the general, working on military plans and helping to call the shots," Terrio said. "I think Kelly does a masterful job of showing us a young woman's evolution from starry-eyed admirer of Finn (John Boyega) to Resistance leader and strategist who is very much his equal."
As Terrio explained to Awards Daily, unforeseen technical issues surrounding Fisher's scenes meant having to drop scenes featuring Rose as Leia's right-hand.
"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," he said. "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."
During the complicated process of involving the late Fisher, a few scenes scripted between 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," Terrio added. "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."
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is now playing.