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Rose Tico is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise, first appearing in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). A mechanic with the Resistance, she befriends Finn and works with him to try to help Resistance forces escape from the First Order. Rose is portrayed by Kelly Marie Tran, the first Asian American woman and first woman of color to portray a leading character in a Star Wars film.

Rose Tico
Star Wars character
Rose Tico from The Last Jedi.jpg
Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico in
The Last Jedi
First appearanceThe Last Jedi (2017)
Created byRian Johnson
Portrayed byKelly Marie Tran
Information
SpeciesHuman
GenderFemale
OccupationResistance Maintenance Worker
AffiliationResistance
RelativesPaige Tico (sister)
HomeworldHays Minor

Rose was created by The Last Jedi writer and director Rian Johnson after he decided a subplot originally involving Finn and Poe Dameron needed a different dynamic. The Last Jedi was Tran's first film role, and she had never seen a Star Wars film before auditioning for the part. A struggling actress who had considered quitting the profession altogether before seeking the part, Rose went through an intense five-month audition process, beating out hundreds of other actresses for the role. J. J. Abrams, who directed two of the three films from the Star Wars sequel trilogy, has said: "I was grateful to Rian Johnson for so many things that he did, but the greatest for me was casting Kelly Marie."[1][2]

Rose's back story was revealed in the novel Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Cobalt Squadron (2017), in which Rose is the protagonist along with her sister Paige, a minor character in the film. That novel establishes that Rose and Paige joined the Resistance after their impoverished home planet was devastated by the First Order. The character of Rose serves as a relatable audience surrogate, an everywoman, a positive influence on Finn, and the personification of real-life Star Wars fandom. Johnson originally planned for Rose to be more sarcastic and irritable, but after Tran was cast, the character's personality was gradually changed to a more positive one to match that of the actress.

Tran felt a connection between Rose's past experiences and those of Tran's own family during the Vietnam War, and Tran did research about the conflict and her family's past to help get into the mindset of playing Rose. The character of Rose and the performance by Tran has received a largely positive reception from critics and fans.[3][4][5] Despite this acclaim, Tran has been the subject of racist and sexist attacks over the Internet,[2][4][6] which led Tran to delete her Instagram account. Multiple fans and celebrities have publicly defended Tran, and the actress directly responded to the attacks with an essay in The New York Times.

Contents

Character biographyEdit

Back storyEdit

Although Rose Tico was first conceived for the film Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017),[7] her back story in established in the middle-grade novel Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Cobalt Squadron (2017), by Elizabeth E. Wein.[8][9] The novel and film were both released on December 15, 2017,[10][11] and Cobalt Sqaduron is set just before and during the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), the first film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.[12] Dialogue that referred to parts of the novel's back story was included in the original The Last Jedi script, but was cut from the final film.[8] Rose is the primary protagonist of the novel along with her older sister, Paige Tico,[12][13] who was portrayed by Veronica Ngo during a brief appearance in the film.[14][15] Although their parents are not featured as characters in the novel, the reference book Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary establishes that the Tico sisters had a close relationship with their parents, Hue and Thanya, who raised them to have a strong sense of right and wrong.[3][16][17] Rose and Paige were raised on the planet Hays Minor, the impoverished mining planet in the Otomok star system far beyond the policing efforts of the New Republic government.[18][19][20] Hays Minor is one of the first places to be victimized by the First Order, an autocratic military dictatorship seeking to control the galaxy. The First Order used the planet to test its weapons and kidnap children to indoctrinate as stormtroopers.[3][5][19] As a result, Rose developed a hatred of the First Order starting in her early childhood.[18][20] The Tico sisters join the Resistance,[3][5][19] a paramilitary organization led by General Leia Organa fighting against the First Order.[21][22] The two worked together on a bomber spacecraft called the Cobalt Hammer, where Paige was a gunner and Rose was a mechanical engineer.[10][11][23] Despite her lack of formal training, she received the post due to her extensive mechanical knowledge.[24] Rose and Paige each wore matching medallions resembling the insignia of their home system of Otomok.[16][17][25]

At the beginning of Cobalt Squadron, Rose and Paige were on a mission to testing new stealth technology when they encountered and rescued a fugitive fleeing from First Order TIE fighters.[11][21] They later learned the fugitives were from a planet in the Atterra System which, like Rose’s and Paige’s home planet, had been devastated by the First Order. Leia authorized a team of bombers, including Rose and Paige aboard the Cobalt Hammer, to gather reconnaissance in the Atterra System and run supplies to the citizens there.[3][11] Leia also asked Rose to devise a technique to allow the bombers to escape First Order detection,[24] leading her to invent a device called a "baffler",[3][11][24] which reduced the ship's ion emmissions and made its energy signature harder to detect,[26] thus making the bombers more difficult for enemy sensors to locate.[3][11][24] Though they sustained casualties from First Order defenders,[21] Rose and the team successfully delivered the supplies, and then escaped. Upon returning to the Resistance, they learned that the entire Hosnian star system, which had housed the capital of the New Republic, was destroyed by the First Order superweapon Starkiller Base, which itself was subsequently destroyed by the Resistance. Rose and Tico prepared to assist with the evacuation of the Resistance base on the planet D’Qar, which led directly into the events in the first scene of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.[21] As a result of the success of the Rose's baffler system, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo ordered that it be adopted throughout the Resistance fleet.[26]

The Last JediEdit

In an early scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Paige Tico was killed during the evacuation of D'Qar, after the Cobalt Hammer was destroyed during an operation in which Paige helped destroy a First Order Dreadnought capital ship.[12][27] Although it was excluded from the film, the novelization of The Last Jedi revealed Rose was not with Paige on the mission because she was helping demonstrate how the Resistance could use her baffler technology to mask their ships. The novel also established that after Paige's death, a survivor of Paige's bombing squadron gave Rose a ring with the insignia of the Rebel Alliance, to commemorate Paige's sacrifice.[23] Rose mourned her sister's death aboard Raddus, a Resistance Mon Calamari cruiser. She was guarding the escape pods against potential Resistance deserters when she found Finn, a Resistance hero she greatly admired, attempting to flee in one of the pods. After Rose stopped him by stunning him with an electro-shock prod,[17][22][28] Finn told her the First Order had found a way to track the Raddus through hyperspace. The two formulated a plan to disable the tracking device on the First Order’s flagship, the Star Dreadnought Supremacy, which would allow the Raddus to escape. With help from Resistance pilot and officer Poe Dameron and his droid BB-8, Rose and Finn set off on an unauthorized mission to the casino city of Canto Bight to find a master codebreaker to assist them.[19][24][29]

Although Finn was impressed by the superficial beauty and debauchery of Canto Bight, Rose reveals to him the dark underpinnings of the lavish casino city, pointing out the fortunes of the city’s rich inhabitants are supported by child slavery, weapons dealing, and other immoral activities that result in the suffering of others.[30][31][32] Rose and Finn were arrested for their illegal entry into Canto Bight, and in prison they met an unnamed slicer,[19][33][34] who along with BB-8 helps them escape and agrees to assist them in disabling the Supremacy's tracking device.[19][30][35] The four escaped Canto Bight with the help of some of the enslaved children there; Rose gave one of them Paige's Rebel Alliance ring to inspire his trust.[23][32][36] Rose and the others returned to the Supremacy and infiltrated the ship disguised as First Order officers, but were captured by General Hux and Captain Phasma before they could disable the tracking device. The slicer betrayed Rose and Finn, informing the First Order of their plan and providing information about the Resistance in exchange for his release and a monetary reward.[25][30][33]

Phasma attempted to execute Rose and Finn, but BB-8 helped them escape and fight their way to freedom, killing Phasma in the process.[37][38] Meanwhile, the surviving Resistance forces escaped to an old Rebel Alliance base on the nearby planet Crait;[19] according to the Last Jedi novelization, the baffler technology developed by Rose helped the Resistance ships in their escape.[23][24][39] Rose, Finn, and BB-8 boardED a stolen First Order shuttle and flew to Crait. Along with Finn and Poe, Rose piloted a ski speeder in a defensive battle against First Order forces, during which they tried to destroy a Superlaser siege cannon before it could destroy the door to the base. Finn attempted a hopeless suicide attack against the cannon, but Rose saved his life by crashing his speeder into hers, knocking him off course and seriously injuring herself in the process.[19][31][39] Rose told Finn the only way they will defeat the First Order is by fighting for what they love, rather than fighting what they hate.[5][31][40] She kissed Finn,[41] then fell unconscious. Finn brought Rose back to the base, and her unconscious body was taken aboard the Millennium Falcon along with the other Resistance survivors. Rose received medical attention as they fled Crait and escaped from the First Order.[19][28] The final scene of The Last Jedi showed the boy who received the Rebel Alliance ring from Rose; he looked at it, then looked up at the stars, with hope for the future of the Resistance's cause.[32][35][36][42]

The Rise of SkywalkerEdit

On July 27, 2018, Lucasfilm confirmed that actress Kelly Marie Tran would reprise her role as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the direct sequel to The Last Jedi and the final film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.[43][44] The film is scheduled to be released on December 20, 2019.[43]

Other Star Wars mediaEdit

Rose Tico has been featured in several Star Wars comic books. She was the protagonist of "Rose Knows", a story in the sixth issue of the Star Wars Adventures comic book series, which was released on January 17, 2018.[45][46][47] "Rose Knows" portrays Rose as an extremely dedicated mechanic who, after first becoming stationed on the Raddus just prior to the events of The Last Jedi, continues working well after her shift ends to study the ship's manuals and learn more about the vessel.[45][48] The comic also included the first meeting of Rose and Poe Dameron, to whom she responded with an excitement similar to that when she met Finn in The Last Jedi.[45][48][49] The knowledge Rose obtains from her research of the Raddus ultimately helps her in assisting Poe when his squadron is attacked by First Order TIE fighters.[48]

Rose and Paige Tico were the protagonists of the final issue of Star Wars: Forces of Destiny, a five-issue comic book miniseries based on an animated web series of the same name.[50] The issue, entitled "Rose & Paige", was released on January 31, 2018,[49][50] and was set before the events of The Force Awakens, when the Resistance was still based on D'Qar. General Leia Organa was seeking methods to collect natural resources, and Rose conceived an idea to build rechargeable vehicles form junk parts. Lacking confidence, Rose was reluctant to volunteer the idea, but Paige insisted that she do so. Despite some opposition from the base's engineers, Leia received the idea warmly, and Rose got two vehicles working with support from Paige and Leia.[48][50] The issue illustrated Rose's deep respect and admiration for Leia; she admitted to Paige, "Every time she talks to me, I can barely function."[22] Paige later became lost in the D'Qar jungles during a scouting mission, and Rose helped find and rescue her.[50]

Rose appeared in "Shuttle Shock", a second season episode of the Star Wars: Forces of Destiny animated web series, created by Lucasfilm Animation and released through Disney's YouTube channel. The series depicted two- or three-minute stories from various points in the Star Wars chronology.[51][52] "Shuttle Shock" was released on March 19, 2018,[53][54] with Kelly Marie Tran reprising her role as the voice of Rose Tico.[53][54] The episode was set before Rose, Finn, and BB-8 reached Canto Bight in The Last Jedi. Their space shuttle was attacked by huge jellyfish-like creatures, and Rose repaired a shorted out BB-8 while Finn attempted to fly to safety.[51][52][53] In early 2018, Rose was added as a playable character in the mobile collectible RPG game Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes. Her character had special moves such as "Courageous Shot" and "Dauntless Idealism", and was able to stun characters with her shock prod, just as she did to Finn in The Last Jedi.[55]

Rose Tico appeared in Lego Star Wars: All-Stars, a series of Lego Star Wars animated short films set in different time periods of the Star Wars chronology.[56][57] The series launched on October 29, 2018,[56] with Tran once again providing the voice of Rose.[57] A profile about Rose Tico was featured in Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy, a book by Amy Ratcliffe highlighting 75 female characters from the Star Wars franchise.[58][59][60] The book was released on October 30, 2018.[61]

CharacterizationEdit

In a lot of movies today, we see people that are royalty, or are superheroes, or have magical powers... I love the idea of someone who might not necessarily be in the forefront of the action to begin with, someone who is like a cog in the machine that helps the Resistance keep going. But then at one point, you have to face your fears and have to be pulled into a situation and be able to face any challenge.

Kelly Marie Tran[22]

Rose Tico was an excellent and highly imaginative mechanic, as seen by her design of the baffler system.[11] With a methodical, technical mind,[62] Rose lacked formal training in mechanical engineering and her knowledge was largely self-taught, which made her resourceful, inventive, and prone to outside-the-box thinking. For example, most characters in The Last Jedi reacted with shock that the First Order was tracking the Resistance through hyperspace because it was believed to be impossible, but Rose deduced how it is being done and helped develop a solution.[24] Rose was passionate, loyal, and committed,[3][63] with a great deal of enthusiasm and intelligence,[49][64][65] and a strong moral code.[3] Idealistic and energetic,[65] she maintained a sense of optimism despite her difficult past and the challenge the Resistance faces against the First Order.[66] She could be tough,[67][68] stubborn,[50] and blunt,[3] as well as intensely focused and determined.[17][22][63] But she was also kind,[67] and understood the value of protecting what is good, rather than just fighting what is bad.[24] Rose also had a great deal of fascination with the galaxy around her, and a sense of awe about the Resistance and the heroes that serve it.[49] She was hard-working,[18][49] resilient, and brave,[8][50][58] though The Daily Telegraph noted her courage is subtle and not flashy "in a dashing, daring Poe Dameron-style way".[63]

Rose strongly believed in the cause of the Resistance, to which she dedicated her life,[5][69][70] and she placed that cause ahead of all things, including herself.[5][71][72] In this way she differed from Finn at the start of The Last Jedi, who was more concerned about himself and his friends than with helping the Resistance or stopping the First Order.[70] However, the example Rose set for Finn inspired him, leading him to capture some of her idealism and place the mission of the Resistance ahead of himself.[22][72][73] Johnson has described Rose as the "angel on Finn's shoulder",[70][74] serving as his conscience and trying to steer him in the right direction, while the unnamed slicer they encountered serves the opposite function.[74] Rose's willingness without hesitation to give her precious medallion to the unnamed slicer in exchange for his help showed her unflinching demonstration to the Resistance cause.[24] However, she could also be rebellious,[19][75] and was willing to disobey orders to do what she thinks is right, as shown by her willingness to work with Finn and Poe on a secret plan to help the Resistance in The Last Jedi.[24]

Rose was very close with her family, and a strong sense of right and wrong was instilled in her by her late parents and her sister Paige.[3][16][17] Rose particularly looked up to Paige,[50] and the two had an extremely strong emotional connection;[3][23] according to the Cobalt Squadron novel, the two had never been apart for more than a couple of days, and they shared "a bond that would have been extraordinary even between twins".[23] That bond, along with their shared tragic history, helped propel them to do the right thing in the face of danger.[49] Prior to the events of The Last Jedi, Rose was more shy and self-conscious, but Paige had faith in Rose's abilities and encouraged her even when Rose herself lacked confidence.[49][50] Paige often forced her younger sister to step forward and be more forthcoming about her ideas and thoughts.[50] This was particularly illustrated in the "Rose & Paige" issue of the Star Wars: Forces of Destiny comic book, during which Rose hesitated to share an idea with General Leia Organa until Paige pushed her to do so.[48][50] In writing about Rose's past in Forces of Destiny and the Star Wars Adventures comic books, writer Delilah S. Dawson said she believed the example Paige set for Rose "gave her context for her increased confidence and strength in The Last Jedi."[49] When Paige died, Rose felt a void in her own identity, according to Tran,[5] but ultimately Paige's love for Rose helped her become more confident and carry own after her sister was gone.[49][50] Paige's death also drove Rose that much harder to fight against the First Order, so her sister's death would not be in vain.[24]

Rose's rage toward the First Order was informed not only by Paige's death, but also because she personally witnessed the brutality and devastation it unleashed on her home planet of Hays Minor.[3][22][76] As a result, her dedication to the Resistance was not tied to a noble, abstract idea of heroism, but a firsthand knowledge of the threat they are fighting,[31] which gave her a deeper understanding of the war than even some of the soldiers around her.[68] Rose's past experiences also made her feel anger at the mistreatment of others, particularly vulnerable populations, as seen by her contempt for Canto Bight and her sympathy for both the enslaved children and the abused creatures there.[3] Rose's feelings occasionally manifested in anger, such as her reaction when she discovered Finn attempting to flee the Raddus,[3] or when she said of Canto Bight that she wished she could "put (her) first through this whole lousy beautiful town".[3] However, Rose was also very empathetic,[22] as demonstrated by the kindness she showed the children on Canto Bight,[32] and the way she rescued Finn at the end of The Last Jedi.[63]

Rose also served the role of everywoman in The Last Jedi.[19][71][77] Her idealistic nature was something the viewer is meant to identify with;[5][77][78] Johnson said in creating the character, he wanted to make someone who could inspire his "10-year-old self".[5] Both Johnson and Tran have described Rose as an unlikely hero who prefered to work in the background, but was pulled into a prominent position in the conflict by the circumstances around her.[72][78][79] While the Star Wars franchise often focused on particularly strong or powerful heroes, Rose was a very low-ranking member of the Resistance, and she demonstrated that every position matters and anyone, no matter their status or position, can make a difference.[63][72][77] She also illustrated how war affects the average person.[77] Despite her talents and abilities, Rose did not consider herself a hero, nor was she seeking to become one.[49][80] Tran said of the character: "It's such a huge deal to me, the idea that she's not necessarily special in the way that we have defined special before in other movies, or in other stories."[77]

Rose has also been described as the personification of real-life Star Wars fandom,[5][77] with Tran herself saying: "I definitely believe that Rose embodies the idea of a fan being pulled into something that’s kind of crazy."[5] This was particularly illustrated in Rose's excitement about meeting Finn for the first time,[5][77] during which she trips over her words, excitedly calling him "The Finn",[77] and nervously said "doing talking [sic] with Resistance heroes isn't really my forte".[3] She had similar reactions upon meeting other Resistance figures in other works of Star Wars media, including Poe Dameron and Leia Organa.[48][77]

Concept and creationEdit

ConceptionEdit

 
Rose Tico was created by Rian Johnson, the director and writer of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Rose Tico was created by Rian Johnson for the film Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), which he wrote and directed. While working on the script, he originally had the characters Poe Dameron and Finn go to Canto Bight together, but he decided having a female character accompany Finn would make for a more interesting dynamic because otherwise, "it was just these two dudes on an adventure".[7][22][29] Johnson said in the original versions of the script with Poe and Finn together, their dialogue could have been interchangeable and there was no conflict between them. This led him to conceive the Rose Tico character, who, in Johnson's words, could "actually challenge him and push him and contrast with him was where Rose came from".[7][22][29]

Johnson conceived Rose Tico as a relatable audience surrogate, and said he "wanted someone who 10-year-old me would truly be able to relate to, someone who was a genuine nerd, someone who it would be a little surprising that they were front and forward in a Star Wars movie".[81] Details about the character were first discussed at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Orlando, Florida, on April 14, 2017.[82][83] At the time, she was only referenced by her first name, "Rose";[82] her last name "Tico" was not revealed until a Vanity Fair article on May 23, 2017.[84] Johnson described Rose Tico as the "biggest new part in the movie",[82] and his favorite new character introduced in the film.[85] Johnson said of the character: "She's not a soldier. She's not looking to be a hero, and she gets pulled a very big way into an adventure in this movie with Finn. ... She's pretty rad."[82] Rose has the most screen time of any new character introduced in The Last Jedi.[84][86]

The name Rose was originally used for the character Maz Kanata during the pre-production of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The name is a tribute to Rose Gilbert, the late high school English teacher who instructed both Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and production designer Rick Carter.[7][10] A handful of scenes involving Rose were in the original The Last Jedi scripts were either eliminated or revised in later drafts. For example, in the original script, Finn was a gunner along with Paige during her bombing run, and he witnessed her death. Johnson removed this from later script drafts because he had trouble reconciling it with Finn's later relationship with Rose.[87] Additionally, the master codebreaker Rose and Finn sought was originally planned to be an insectoid warlord who involved Rose and Finn in an effort to rob a rival. This led to an extended sequence of Finn, Rose, and the codebreaker's crew climbing atop the casino rooftop during an attempted robbery, which ended with Finn and Rose getting arrested.[88]

CastingEdit

 
Kelly Marie Tran, who portrayed Rose Tico, was the first Asian American and first woman of color to play a leading role in a Star Wars film.

Kelly Marie Tran spent years struggling to find work and doing temporary jobs on the side, and had considered quitting acting altogether before auditioning for The Last Jedi.[79][89] Tran was not a Star Wars fan and had never seen a film in the franchise before seeking the role.[90][91][92] She believed that ultimately helped her in her audition,[3][93][94] saying: "I didn't have this expectation of what I thought this person should be like; I wasn't trying to model her after someone I'd seen in a movie."[3][91] Hundreds of actresses auditioned for the part of Rose Tico.[3][95] Tran, a Harry Potter fan, wore her lucky Ravenclaw tie to the audition, but later became concerned when the other actresses were wearing more serious attire. Nevertheless, she wore the tie again during her first callback.[91] Tran went through five intense rounds of auditions over five months between the summer and fall of 2015,[91][93][80] with one month spanning between each audition.[91] Johnson observed her during her second audition,[91] and immediately liked her; he said watching her felt like seeing the character he pictured in his mind during the writing process.[95][96][97] During one of the auditions, Tran did one-on-one reads alongside John Boyega, the actor who portrays Finn, to determine whether the two actors had chemistry and worked well together.[3] Boyega said it was clear from the start of their readings together that Tran was the first actress for the part.[79] The final audition took place in London with full hair, makeup, and costuming. Three weeks later, in November 2015, Johnson met with Tran and offered her the role.[91]

Johnson said of the audition process: "We saw a lot of talented actresses of a very broad range, but honestly, it was more about finding Kelly."[81] Tran had a "kind of genuine oddball nature and a real sweetness to her",[81] and he knew audiences would want her character to succeed. He said of the actress: "She has the most open heart of anyone I’ve ever met and I knew that was going to shine through onscreen."[81] Johnson said her chemistry with Boyega was another main reason she got the part.[95] J. J. Abrams, the producer, co-writer and director of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, has said of Tran's casting: "I was grateful to Rian Johnson for so many things that he did, but the greatest for me was casting Kelly Marie."[1][2][98] Boyega felt Tran's background in improv comedy and numerous Internet videos ultimately helped Tran bring to the role "the light tones that we need to see in (The Last Jedi), despite the seriousness of the narrative".[72] After receiving the part, Rose Tico watched all the Star Wars films, read several books, and listened to podcasts about it, becoming a fan of the franchise.[83][90][93] The casting of Tran was first announced on the official Star Wars website on February 15, 2016, which described the actress as a "talented newcomer".[99] Tran discussed the character for the first time publicly at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Orlando, where she said: "She's part of the Resistance, and she works in maintenance. I can’t wait for you to meet her."[82] In later interviews, Tran said she hopes the character will show viewers that "even if you are not born a princess or into a position of privilege, if you are a background player and aren't a frontrunner like a star pilot, you can still make a difference".[93]

I remember what it felt like to not see anyone like myself in books or on film or TV. When you’re really young, you tend to fall in love with characters. If you start seeing the same type of character everywhere and realize that they don’t look like you, or they don’t speak like you, you start wanting to change who you are. That’s something that I did when I was a young kid. I’m excited to be a part of this positive change.

Kelly Marie Tran[5]

The Last Jedi was Tran's first film role.[5] A Vietnamese American,[3][100] she was the first Asian American actress,[3][91][101] and first woman of color, to play a leading character in a Star Wars film.[4][102][103] Tran said she believes it was important to have a strong female Asian American character in Star Wars because she knows from her own childhood how important it is for young people to see characters like themselves represented in film, television, and books.[3][5][91][104] She said: "A lot of Star Wars fans who are specifically Asian never had a character they could dress up like .. I get very emotional when I see people who are able to identify with this character. That means a lot to me and I don’t think it will ever get old."[5] Tran said she felt it was a "lot of responsibility" to portray someone viewers would look up to, and she wanted to do the character justice.[105][106] Johnson was not specifically seeking an Asian American actress for the role, and audition notices indicated they were open to actresses from any ethnicity.[3][8][91] In May 2017, Tran posed as Rose on the cover of Vanity Fair, becoming the first Asian American cover to appear on the magazine's cover.[10][91] In December 2017, Disney arranged for Tran to embark on a press tour in Singapore and her home country of Vietnam to publicize The Last Jedi.[93]

Costume designEdit

The costume design for Rose Tico was being developed for The Last Jedi before the actress was cast. The crew knew from the early stages that her primary costume would be a basic coverall. Johnson requested that it be "pretty shapeless",[107] and something that either a man or woman could wear. The costume is a variation of the uniform members of the Resistance ground crew wear in The Force Awakens, with minor modifications to give it a slightly different look. The same color from the original uniforms, which costume supervisor David Crossman "acidy green", was kept for Rose's costume.[107] The original script called for Rose to wear a beautiful gown during the Canto Bight scenes, so she would blend in with the other wealthy clientele. Costume designer Michael Kaplan said the scene was "going to be a big reveal for Rose, going from this frumpy-dumpy coverall to a beautiful gown".[108] This idea was ultimately abandoned, [108] and it was decided that Rose would wear the coverall costume throughout the entire Canto Bight subplot,[107] which had the effect of making Rose and Finn stick out among the crowd.[108] Costume designer Michael Kaplan said of the coverall costume:[107]

Tran wore a form-fitting First Order uniform as a disguise during her The Last Jedi scenes with Finn and the unnamed slicer aboard the Supremacy. Kaplan said the costume crew wanted to choose a color for the costume that would "enhance" Rose, but they were limited to the First Order colors of black, gray, or teal. They chose teal because they wanted to establish her as the highest-ranking officer of the trio.[109]

The idea of the medallions worn by Rose and Paige Tico came from Carrie Fisher, the actress who portrayed General Leia Organa. She insisted to Rian Johnson that the movie needed "space jewelry," with which he agreed.[3][110] The original script called for the medallions worn by Rose and Paige to be a two-part pendant that could be placed together to form a single image. This was later changed so that both Rose and Paige had identical medallions, but concept artist Matthew Savage said they still have a yin and yang quality about them.[111] Various designs were created for the medallions, but Johnson's favorite was one based on a Celtic reference suggested by set decorator Richard Roberts. That version was ultimately used in the film.[111] Johnson and Kaplan spent a great deal of time debating Rose's hair style, spending days of hair tests and trying multiple wigs. In the end, Tran's real hair was cut into a shape that would look good in a ponytail, but resulted in a mushroom-like shape when taken down.[5]

FilmingEdit

In January 2016, Tran moved to London to begin filming.[91] She was bound by confidentiality agreements not to discuss the character and could not tell anyone that she was working on a Star Wars film,[82][91] even her own family. Tran told them she was filming an independent movie in Canada;[82][90][91] she sent them photos of Canada that she downloaded from Google,[90] and purchased Canadian maple syrup for them as a gift to make the ruse more convincing.[82][83] To prevent secrets about the film from leaking during filming, Tran and the other actors were driven around the sets in cars with tinted windows, and made to wear black robes so people would not recognize them.[112] On her first day on the Last Jedi set, Tran saw Anthony Daniels performing as C-3PO and hugged him, which she called "the best experience ever".[113] She said it could be difficult at times maintaining her composure and managing her excitement working on a Star Wars set, especially as a fairly new actress. Tran said: "You have to find a way to just do the work and kind of block everything (else) out. But then, C-3PO comes up and you're like, 'Oh.' You're constantly figuring out, 'How can I work in this environment,' but also, 'This is awesome.'"[114]

 
Kelly Marie Tran shared more scenes in The Last Jedi with John Boyega than any other actor, and she he was very easy to work with.

Tran was not used to living without her established support system, and often felt scared and lonely during filming: "I remember crying because I wanted my friends to experience it".[91] To combat the isolation, she joined an improvisational theatre class in London, kept journals, and sought companionship from her fellow cast members, especially John Boyega.[91] Tran shared more scenes with Boyega than any other cast member, and she said it was very easy to work with him,[8] and that she learned a lot from him. The two laughed and joked regularly on the set,[83][115] and occasionally improvised during filming.[10][104] Finn said of Boyega: "John is someone who I feel like I immediately was able to mesh with. We connect on different levels because our parents are immigrants, we’re both people of color, nerds, and he's just hilarious."[91] At one point after filming a scene together, Boyega said to Tran, "Kelly, we are making history," which helped the actress realize the magnitude of appearing in the film.[94] She said of Boyega: "He was the best partner I could have had on a massive movie like this."[115]

Tran said director Rian Johnson made her feel very comfortable on the set and collaborated with her, seeking her thoughts and suggestions about the character.[8][116] She said: "Rian was so good at inspiring that trust, and I think everyone on set felt as comfortable as me."[116] In early versions of the script, Tran said the Rose Tico was "more sarcastic and grumpy",[5][117] and Johnson compared her to the Winnie-the-Pooh character Eeyore.[117] However, once Tran was cast, the character's personality gradually changed to match that of the actress herself.[5][91][117] This is particularly reflected in the excitement and enthusiasm Rose showed during the scene in which she met Finn.[5][118] In the original script, Rose was immediately suspicious of Finn, but because of the way the character had changed to match Tran's personality, Johnson realized she should admire Finn initially and be excited to meet him. It was one of the few scenes in The Last Jedi that Johnson rewrote during the production.[118] Tran said of developing the character: "Sometimes I think Kelly informed Rose, and sometimes I think Rose informed me. It's such a messy, tangled relationship, which I think is kind of beautiful. She's always going to be part of me and I'm always going to be part of her."[91]

Tran called filming The Last Jedi "the ultimate acting class".[91] She was particularly excited to work with Laura Dern, of whom she was a strong admirer,[91] and Carrie Fisher, who inspired Tran with her confidence and honesty.[72][91][119] Tran said of Fisher, "I don't know how to explain it: without even protecting me, she was. Just by being herself."[91] Tran and Boyega were also particularly impressed by Benicio Del Toro, who plays the unnamed slicer that they share multiple scenes with; she said they were "obsessed" with Del Toro, adding: "Every time he did anything, we would just turn to each other and say, 'He's such a legend!"[115] Tran enjoyed playing the augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go on the set of The Last Jedi, and got others on the cast and crew to play it as well, including Johnson and Boyega.[120] Tran shared a physical trainer with Daisy Ridley, the actress who played Rey, and had to follow a difficult fitness regimen, becoming so strong she learned how to push a car.[91] The film's stunt crew taught Tran styles of fighting and how to use various weapons, as well as different types of falls and jumps, including, according to Tran, "how to take a bullet".[121] Tran was so impressed with the work that went into making The Last Jedi that she often visited the set on days when she wasn't performing herself, visiting the art, creature, production design, and costume departments.[122]

Johnson was nervous about filming the scene immediately after Rose and Finn first met, in which Rose was dragging a stunned Finn away on a cart, because the dialogue involved a great deal of exposition and he feared it would be difficult to make it effective. Johnson credited the acting abilities of Tran and Boyega for making it work.[123] The scenes in which Rose and Finn escaped from Canto Bight by riding giant creatures were shot during the final two weeks of filming. The sequence was created by visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic, who planned out the animation, then created a motion base that Tran and Boyega rode atop. The base and a motion-controlled camera were programmed to move at a speed and route that matched the planned animation.[124] A handful of scenes involving Rose were filmed, but cut from the final version of The Last Jedi. In one, after Rose and Finn were captured on the Supremacy, General Hux mocked Rose after seeing her medallion, and she responds by biting his finger. Johnson thought it was a good character moment for Rose, but it was cut due to pacing issues.[125] In another deleted scene, after escaping from the Supremacy on a shuttle, Rose and Finn discussed their next destination and ultimately decided to rejoin the Resistance forces on Crait.[126] Dialogue that involved Rose chastising Finn for being too emotionally attached to Rey.[127]

To understand the mindset of Rose's traumatic past experiences with war, Tran researched her own family's experiences during the Vietnam War;[91][94] her parents had to flee the country during the conflict, and she had other relatives who tried to escape at the time but could not.[91] She also listened to podcasts about the Vietnam War to learn more about the conflict.[128] Tran felt a connection between Rose's past experiences and those of Tran's own family, particularly the fact that both suffered losses and experienced poverty due to war. Tran said, "A lot of the things (Rose) is dealing with are things that I already had inside me".[128] Tran also listened to podcasts and read books about engineers and how they think, which helped her better understand Tico's role as a mechanic and maintenance worker.[91] Tran did not share any actual screen time with Veronica Ngo, who played Rose's sister Paige, but they spent time together off-camera and would go to restaurants together and regularly send text messages to each other. Tran felt a connection with Ngo, who is from Vietnam like Tran's family, and Tran helped her with taped auditions for roles Ngo was seeking.[5]

Tran felt the moment Rose kissed Finn was one of her character's bravest moments: "It's one thing to believe in a cause and to fight for it, but I think it’s a different type of courage to put yourself in a position where you’re emotionally vulnerable. To put yourself out there romantically, for me that’s very hard." It was Tran's first on-screen kiss, but she said Boyega made it easier because "he’s just so open and generous in all of his acting and who he is".[5] Rose's arguably most important and famous line in The Last Jedi was delivered to Finn at the end of the film: "That's how we're going win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love."[40] The line, written by Johnson, was partially inspired by a similar statement made by Irvin Kershner, the director of The Empire Strikes Back (1980), the second film in the original Star Wars trilogy. Describing the difference between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire in that film, Kershner said: "That's the difference between the Rebels and the Empire. It's possible to fight because you love, not just because you hate."[40] Johnson read the quote in the book Once Upon a Galaxy: A Journal of the Making of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and incorporated it into The Last Jedi.[40]

After filming wrapped on The Last Jedi, Tico spent a year away from acting,[91] in part to enjoy her last few months of anonymity before her role in Star Wars became widely known.[90] She worked on an endangered wilflife reserve in South Africa,[90][91] where there was no electricity, running water, or Internet access.[90] Nobody there knew she was an actress until Rose Tico toys started coming out. Tran later went to Vietnam to work with orphans, and brought her parents back to their home country for the first time since they fled during the Vietnam War 40 years earlier.[90][91]

Non-film portrayalsEdit

The first Rose Tico action figures were revealed by Hasbro on September 1, 2017, as part of a Star Wars merchandising event called "Force Friday".[129][130][131] A Funko Pop figurine of the character was released the same day,[132] as was a Lego Star Wars set of the Resistance Transport Pod vehicle that included Lego figurines of Rose, Finn, and BB-8.[133][134] The novelization of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, written by Jason Fry, includes a moment between Rose and Paige Tico that was not featured in the film, during which Rose says goodbye to Paige before the latter departed for the bombing mission that ultimately kills her.[23] Kelly Marie Tran provided the narration for the audiobook version of Elizabeth E. Wein's Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Cobalt Squadron novel.[135][136][137] The audiobook was released on December 15, 2017, the same day as the novel and the Last Jedi film.[10][11]

Comic book writer Delilah S. Dawson wrote Rose Tico's stories for both the "Rose & Paige" issue of Star Wars: Forces of Destiny comic book series,[49][50] and the "Rose Knows" story in the Star Wars Adventures comic book series.[45][49] Rose was illustrated by Nicoletta Baldari in Forces of Destiny,[49][50] with covers portraying the two title characters by Baldari, penciller Elsa Charretier and colorist Matt Wilson.[138][139] Artist Derek Charm illustrated the "Rose Knows" comic and one of its covers,[45][64][138] while Tim Levins illustrated an alternative cover.[140] Before writing the stories, Dawson read the script for The Last Jedi in November 2016, as well as an early draft of the Cobalt Squadron novel. This gave her an understanding of the personalities and speech patterns of Rose and Paige Tico for her own writing. Dawson was excited to write about the Tico sisters because she was a "huge fan" of the characters and she considered them a strong role model for children, as well as "a study in finding people who lift you up and believe in you and in using that belief to do what you can’t do alone".[49] She said of Rose and Paige: "To me, they’re the heart of what the Resistance means: ordinary people willing to make sacrifices in the hopes that other people and planets won’t have to suffer."[49] Baldari said her animation of Rose and Paige was partially inspired by that of Anna and Elsa, sister characters from the Disney animated film Frozen (2013), on which Baladri also worked.[49]

Rose will be the protagonist of one of four announced installments in Age of Resistance, a comic book miniseries that will each chronicle different characters and time periods from the Star Wars chronology.[141][142] The issue, which will be released on September 4, 2019,[141][143] will focus on Rose's relationship with her sister Paige as they flee the First Order's invasion of their home planet.[144] The author, Tom Taylor, specifically requested to write an issue about Rose because she was his son's favorite character, and he said of it, "it's probably the best issue, or the one that we feel the closest to".[145]

ReceptionEdit

Critical receptionEdit

The first Asian-American woman to play a major role in a Star Wars film, Tran is a welcome addition both culturally and narratively, bringing much-appreciated representation to the cinematic universe. She’s also a gosh darn delight, diving head-first into the dangerous mission and dragging Finn along.

Annlee Ellingson, L.A. Biz[146]

The character of Rose Tico and performance by Kelly Marie Tran has received a largely positive reception from critics and fans,[3][4][46][81] with several commentators calling her the "breakout star" of The Last Jedi.[8][10][46][147] Katerina Daley of Screen Rant said, based on critic and fan reactions alike, "Rose Tico has quickly gone on to become yet another character in the long line of icons to emerge from Star Wars."[3] Daley praised Rose Tico's vulnerability, wit, strength, and compassion, saying she embodies all the traits that make Star Wars heroes great.[3] The Observer film critic Mark Kermode called Tran's performance "winning" and the Rose Tico character "already a firm fan favorite".[148] Alistair Harkness of The Scotsman called Kelly Marie Tran "the heart" of The Last Jedi, much like John Boyega was for The Force Awakens, and that the two characers are "more interesting to hang out with than some of the more established characters whose adventures we've seen in their prime".[149] Annlee Ellingson of L.A. Biz wrote: "The first Asian-American woman to play a major role in a Star Wars film, Tran is a welcome addition both culturally and narratively, bringing much-appreciated representation to the cinematic universe. She’s also a gosh darn delight."[146] Michael Sragow of Film Comment praised Tran's energetic and emotional performance, which he said made Rose the "most rousing figure" among the film's heroes. Sragow said the character "blows into the movie with a fan's enthusiasm, a can-do spirit, and bracing undercurrents of proletarian rebellion".[65]

Variety's Meredith Woerner said Tran's performance "electrified Star Wars fans" and that her "onscreen energy and passion for the space uprising radiated off the screen".[5] Woerner wrote: "Stealing the spotlight from The Force Awakens favorites, Tran injected the galaxy far, far away with a dose of pure enthusiasm."[5] Anna Menta of Newsweek said Rose Tico "has quickly become a favorite addition to the Star Wars universe", and that Tran's off-camera personality and enthusiasm has helped endeared her even more to fans.[4] Los Angeles Times writer Jen Yamato called Rose Tico an "instant fan favorite".[81] and Matthew Aguilar of Comicbooks.com, likewise, said Tran "was already a favorite before the film even hit theaters".[46] Quad-City Times writer Linda Cook called Rose one of her favorite new Star Wars characters, praising her compelling background and relationship with Finn.[150] Pete Hammond of Deadline Hollywood called Rose a "great new character" and "a kick-ass firebrand I found very welcome to these proceedings".[151] The Week culture critic Lili Loofbourow called Rose Tico "one of my favorite additions to the franchise".[67] Metro Silicon Valley writer Richard von Busack described Tran's performance as "show-stealing".[152] Insider writer Kirsten Acuna said Rose, along with Rey, gave young girls and female Star Wars fans a hero to serve as a role model.[153] The Daily Herald included Tran's performace as Rose Tico in its list of "10 great screen performers from 2017", with writer Sean Strangland calling the character "a delight".[154]

Richard Trenholm of CNET called Rose "a delight to watch", praising her chemistry with Finn and saying she represented the "indomitable moral spirit of Star Wars with her clear-eyed determination to do the right thing".[155] The Stranger writer Andrew Wright said Rose Tico "makes a strong bid for MVP" among the new Star Wars characters introduced in The Last Jedi.[66] David Sims of The Atlantic called Rose a "wonderfully sneaky" character because "she’s set up as a plucky sidekick but almost immediately becomes a crucial teacher, and equal partner, for Finn".[31] John W. Allman of Creative Loafing called Rose "a wonderful addition with a great backstory" who elevated and brought a renewed focus to Finn's character.[156] Nerdist writer Rosie Knight called Rose a "much-needed" addition to the Star Wars universe.[58] Dominic Griffin of Spectrum Culture wrote that Rose "emerges as a compelling lead equal to the others in emotional resonance".[157] Pam Powell of the San Francisco Daily Journal said Rose "shines with personality" and "exudes humor and timing", and that she pleasantly anticipated seeing her with each scene.[158] The Daily Beast senior entertainment editor Marlow Stern called Tran's performance "a breath of fresh air".[159] Ruben Rosario of MiamiArtzine called Tran's performance "charming (and) instantly relatable".[160] Molly Templeton called Rose an "excellent addition" to the Star Wars universe.[161] Kirk Baird of The Blade said Tran delivered an "honestly sweet performance".[162] The Atlantic writer Christopher Orr was critical of the Canto Bight sequence, but said Tran's performance helped to enliven it.[163]

Some critics who disliked The Last Jedi were still complimentary toward aspects of Rose Tico's character or Tran's performance. Salon writer Matthew Rozsa, who disliked the film and particularly criticized the Canto Bight sequence, nevertheless noted: "the chemistry between Finn and Rose makes them easily the most likable and sympathetic characters in the film".[164] Similarly, Ryan Syrek of The Reader felt the first half of The Last Jedi was "clunky" and the subplot involving Finn and Rose's efforts to shut down the tracking device worked poorly, but he said the character dynamics between the two were strong and descibed Rose as "easily my favorite new character in this new trilogy".[165] Alyssa Rosenberg, an opinion writer for The Washington Post who was critical of The Last Jedi, said of Kelly Marie Tran: "like nearly everyone in this movie, (she) deserved better writing than she was given".[30] Tor.com writer Emily Asher-Perrin said the character "deserves more attention than the film is capable of giving her".[166] Chris Gore of Film Threat said he very much liked the Rose character, but found the Canto Bight scenes to be "an unnecessary divert".[167]

Several critics responded negatively to the Canto Bight subplot with Rose and Finn, calling it an unnecessary and distracting element of the film that contributed little to the overall storyline.[168][169][170] Other critics were more negative about the Rose Tico character. Gulf News writer Shyama Krishna Kumar called Rose a welcome addition overall, but said she "could have benefited from additional depth".[171] Cinevue writer Christopher Machell described the character as "sadly underwritten".[172] Kyle Pinion of The Beat called the character "basically a non-entity", saying she "never seems to grow beyond 'earnest'" and her relationship with Finn felt rushed.[173] Armond White of the National Review calls the relationship between Finn and Rose a politically correct "multi-culti play".[174] Aine O'Connor of the Irish Independent called the Rose and Finn pairing and subplot "weak".[175] The New York Observer writer felt Finn and Rose had bad chemistry and called their storyline a "misguided side-quest".[176] Brandon Katz Sonny Bunch of The Washington Free Beacon condemned the Canto Bight subplot as pointless and unnecessary, and called Rose and Finn "the two shittiest, most boring characters in the entirety of Star Wars history".[177]

Discriminatory attacksEdit

Despite the critical acclaim, Tran has been the subject of racist and sexist attacks over the Internet,[2][4][6][178] including insults about her ethnicity and weight,[179] which began immediately after her casting was announced.[180][181] In a March 2018 interview, Rose said she had been receiving "really acidic, misogynistic, racist comments" about her performance as Rose Tico.[181][182] Tran has been the target of racist trolling on Twitter. In one example, right-wing Internet personality Paul Ray Ramsey mocked Tran's weight.[6][102][183] Rose Tico's entry on Wookieepedia, an online encyclopedia about the Star Wars universe, was edited to include racist and vulgar comments on December 2017, which drew national media attention. Fandom, the wiki hosting service that operated the domain, removed the offensive edits, protected the page, and publicly condemned the vandalism.[4][6][102] The character of Rose Tico was defended by the official Star Wars page on Facebook. In response to complaints about the character's actions in The Last Jedi, the Facebook page responded with a list of positive and significant actions done by the character, and wrote: "Personal growth is inherent to every Star Wars story. Without the detour to Canto Bight, Finn wouldn't have grown past only caring about himself and his immediate circle of friends. And Rose wouldn't have discovered her own ability to be the type of hero she idolized."[184]

In June 2018, Tran deleted all the posts on her account on Instagram in response to online harassment.[2][86][100] and replaced the Instagram bio with the words "Afraid, but doing it anyway".[179][185][186] Salon writer Nicole Karlis suggested many of the discriminatory attacks came from "white privileged men" afraid of a strong female character who is not hypersexualized in a film, writing: "I can't help but wonder: if Tran's character aligned with the misogynistic and racist stereotype of Asian women as submissive and seductive, would the trolls have still come out?"[6] Esquire writer Dom Nero called the bullying of Tran "another example of the rising current of hatred and discrimination in our culture", and said it came from a "very vocal minority of Star Wars fans who do not agree with the progressive ideals set forth in the refreshingly inclusive, emotionally-nuanced film".[187]

Several cast and crew members from The Last Jedi condemned the attacks and spoke in defense of Tran, including Rian Johnson, John Boyega,[103][136][188] and actors Domhnall Gleeson,[189][190] and Mark Hamill,[186][191] who tweeted a picture of himself with Tran and wrote, "What's not to love? #GetALifeNerds".[185][186][192] Johnson called attackers "manbabies",[179][182][189] and said they represent a "few unhealthy people" and not the "vast majority" of Star Wars fans.[185][186][192] Claudia Gray, an author who had written several Star Wars books, said the attacks against Tran ran counter to the principles of the franchise, and people who did not understand that "were never a Star Wars fan to begin with".[182] Other celebrities have publicly supported Tran as well, including Josh Gad, Kumail Nanjiani, Gabrielle Union, Elijah Wood, and Edgar Wright.[185] Stephen Colbert condemned Tran's attackers during a segment on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, during which he presented a mock trailer for The Last Jedi specifically designed to make "racist, misogynist nerds" angry.[188] In less than one day, more than 20,000 fans retweeted a message of support for Tran on Twitter that sought to "drown out the manbabies".[182] Star Wars fans began circulating fan art of Rose Tico on Twitter to show support for Tran,[192][193] along with the hashtag #FanArtForRose.[193] She was also shown support at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con during a "Rally for Rose", during which fans appeared in cosplay attire as Rose Tico or wore "Rose for Hope" T-shirts. Fans posted about the event on social media networks using the hashtags #ForceOutHate and #RallyForRose.[191]

In response to the attacks, Tran wrote an essay for The New York Times entitled "Kelly Marie Tran: I Won’t Be Marginalized by Online Harassment", which ran on August 21, 2018.[2][194] She wrote that the attacks reinforced microaggressions she had long faced as a Vietnamese American, and which sought to reinforce a narrative that Asians should be marginalized and treated only as minor characters, both in stories and in real life.[2][103][194] Tran said she even began to believe the negative statements made about her, and that they sent her down "a spiral of self-hate, into the darkest recesses of my mind, places where I tore myself apart, where I put their words above my own self-worth".[100][195] She wrote: "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. And that feeling, I realize now, was, and is, shame, a shame for the things that made me different, a shame for the culture from which I came from."[2][194] She concluded the essay with: "You might know me as Kelly. I am the first woman of color to have a leading role in a Star Wars movie. I am the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair. My real name is Loan. And I am just getting started."[2][194] When Tran appeared during a panel about The Rise of Skywalker at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on April 12, 2019, she received a swell of support from the crowd, who chanted her name and gave her a standing ovation, causing the actress to tear up on stage.[1][2][100] Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent called it "the unexpected highlight of the panel" and wrote: "Tran’s reception was not only heartening, it was a moment of pure relief for so many fans of the franchise, worried that the well had finally been poisoned beyond repair."[98]

ReferencesEdit

FootnotesEdit

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