Her near-erasure sparked the hashtag #RoseTicoDeservedBetter, which led “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu to tweet an offer to guide a would-be Disney-Plus series featuring Tran’s character, who was the first lead woman of color in a Star Wars movie.
Now, a series of statements by Chris Terrio, who co-wrote “Rise” with director J.J. Abrams, is illuminating the behind-the-scenes thinking to a degree — yet also further rousing some fans of Rose, who was embraced as a major step forward for representation.
Tran left Instagram last year after she was subject to an online bullying campaign, with some of the abusive remarks commenting on her looks and ethnicity. “Their words reinforced a narrative I had heard my whole life: that I was ‘other,’ that I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t good enough, simply because I wasn’t like them,” Tran wrote last year in a personal essay in the New York Times.
Terrio told Awards Daily last week that there was nothing deliberate or nefarious in pushing Rose aside. He said the character was originally set to share several scenes with Leia Organa, in a posthumous “performance” by Carrie Fisher, cobbled together from footage shot before her death.
“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’s footage in the way we wanted to,” said Terrio, emphasizing that he and Abrams “adore” Tran. “We wanted Rose to be the anchor at the rebel base who was with Leia.”
“A few scenes we’d written with Rose and Leia turned out to not meet the standard of photorealism that we’d hoped for,” Terrio added. “Those scenes unfortunately fell out of the film. The last thing we were doing was deliberately trying to sideline Rose.”
On Monday, Terrio walked back that explanation, saying that the real issue with Rose had nothing to do with visual effects.
He told Vulture: “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. In that earlier interview, I was referring to a specific scene in which Leia’s emotional state in ‘Episode VII’ [‘The Force Awakens’] did not seem to match the scene we wrote for use in ‘Episode IX’ [‘Rise’] and so it was cut at the script stage before the VFX work was done.”
Terrio underscored to the Hollywood Reporter on Monday that the issue did not involve “photorealism,” as he earlier stated. “I would sometimes come and sit at the VFX reviews and my jaw would drop at seeing Leia live again."
(Representatives from the film have not yet responded to a request from The Post to speak with Terrio.)
Terrio’s comments have renewed criticism of how Rose was sidelined. Critic and podcaster Amy Nicholson tweeted Monday: “Carrie Fisher passed away 9 months before Chris Terrio and JJ were hired to write STAR WARS. Do they...not think we can fact check nonsense about being forced to scrap scenes they wrote for Leia and Rose?”
Even before this controversy, some fans viewed “Rise” as Abrams’s attempt at course correction after Rian Johnson’s “The Last Jedi,” which divided fans over many of its story choices, such as the heroic Rey seemingly being of humble lineage, and the ultimate fate of Luke Skywalker. Some Star Wars fans also interpreted Abrams’s comments in a recent New York Times article as criticism of “Last Jedi.” Abrams said in part that the trilogy “needed a pendulum swing in one direction in order to swing in the other.”
Despite the sidelining of Rose, Terrio tried to spin her presence as a positive, telling the Hollywood Reporter, “Rose begins her journey in TLJ [“The Last Jedi”] as just about the lowest person on the Resistance totem pole. In TROS [“The Rise of Skywalker"], Rose is at the right hand of the general, working on military plans and helping to call the shots."