Kelly Marie Tran spoke to Irish Times about starring in Croods 2: A New Age, toxic fanbases, and being on ‘an improv team of all-Asian women’.
The Croods 2 or The Croods: A New Age as it is known in several territories reunites the prehistoric family of the original movie, as voiced by Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, and – in one of her final roles – Cloris Leachman. Meanwhile, new recruits to the franchise include Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann, and Kelly Marie Tran, as a rival, neighbouring clan.
“It’s crazy being in this movie,” says Tran. “ I mean, just look at the cast in this movie. Everyone’s so incredible. It still feels very unreal that I’m a part of it. So I’m really excited for people to get to see it and meet the new characters.”
“It’s funny, because I don’t know, I still feel kind of new to this world, even though I started working when I was just 16,” she says. “So it has really only been four years that I’ve been a working actor. But the more that I work in this world, the more that I recognise that as an actor, the only thing you have control over is essentially trying to be as honest as possible when you’re auditioning for a project. The things that come to you come to you. So I’m really grateful to have all these projects coming up, but I’m not sitting here with a map. I don’t know what I’m going to get. I was working in an office struggling to be in movies. What happens happens.”
Tran trained in improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade, the one-time testing ground for Adam McKay and Amy Poehler, when she picked up skills that would later be put to terrific use in Broadway’s annual Miscast gala, in which Tran played both Elder Price and Elder Cunningham in a rendition of The Book of Mormon’s You and Me (But Mostly Me). Comedy, she says, runs in the family.
“My dad is definitely just a hilarious person,” says Tran. “My mama is really boisterous. And I’m really good at storytelling, We’re really good at lying. We used to make up all sorts of stories. I don’t know how appropriate they are. But my dad would make up all these stories he would tell us as kids, with mama sitting in the corner, just shaking her head. Stories were always a big part of my life. But I didn’t know that it was a career that people could pursue, because it just seemed so impossible. Not only was my family from Vietnam, we were very much working class. I didn’t see anyone who looked like me doing the things that I wanted to be doing. It seemed so far away.”
She laughs. “My parents still think it’s far away. They still think I’m crazy. Only recently they were like: ‘So you already did the acting thing? Are you going to go back to grad school now?’”
In 2017, Tran scored a huge career break when she was cast as Rose Tico, a Resistance maintenance worker in Rian Johnson’s Stars Wars: The Last Jedi. She was the first woman of colour to be cast as a major character in the planet’s most profitable space opera.
“It’s definitely something that I took on with a lot of responsibility,” says Tran. “It’s so cool to be a part of all of these, all of these established properties and projects that, when I was watching movies growing up, I truly never thought that I would be a part of. Star Wars felt like a miracle, and then The Croods felt like a miracle. It’s a constant source of surprise for me.”
Star Wars was a big deal. Even in the past year, as Chloe Zhao celebrated winning the Oscar for best director for her work on Nomadland, a new study emerged from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative demonstrating that over the past 13 years, just 44 major films had an Asian American or Pacific Islander, or AAPI. Some 14 of those starred Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is of Samoan descent.
Tran’s Cinderella story was, sadly, soon tainted by an army of alt-right Star Wars fans. The actor was forced to shut down her Instagram account when the premiere of The Last Jedi brought a stream of invective concerning – at best – the character of Rose, and – at worst – Tran’s appearance, gender and race. The page for Tran’s character on the Star Wars fan site, Wookiepedia, was altered to feature some breathtaking (and puerile) vitriol.
The toxic fanbase was countered by Tran’s co-stars including Mark Hamill – who took to Twitter with the #GetALifeNerds hashtag – and Domhnall Gleeson, who rightly described the abusive Star Wars fans as “morons”.
Against all odds, Tran maintained her composure throughout the ordeal. She had help, she says.
“I’m on an improv team of all Asian women,” says Tran. “And that’s how we got through the comedy gigs. By just sticking together. With auditions, I have always had a really supportive group of actresses around me, and we just help each other on our tapes and our auditions. That’s the only way to make it. Acting isn’t a solo sport. It’s communal. And through the Star Wars stuff, I always had my friends.”
Read the interview in full here, Croods 2: A New Age opens tomorrow, July 16th.
The post Kelly Marie Tran on Star Wars Hate Speech and Starring in Croods 2 appeared first on Jedi News.