The last week of the year is a liminal space. It is the abandoned shopping mall of time: It once was, it is not yet. Nothing happens in the last week of the year, when post-holiday blues and pre-New Year’s Eve nerves set in. And everything happens in the last week of the year, when we try to cram in all the year-end bullsh-t we can before time resumes counting. But this year, something intruded in our year-end bacchanal of nothing, and that was the maelstrom known as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In the wake of the final installment of the “Skywalker Saga”—is anyone going to refer to Star Wars that way? I think not—plenty of people took to the internet to complain, explain, and generally talk sh-t. One of those people was Skywalker screenwriter Chris Terrio.
Terrio, the man also (partly) responsible for Batman v Superman and Justice League—Hollywood, maybe consider revoking his blockbuster card—spoke to Awards Daily after a controversy blew up over Kelly Marie Tran’s lack of screen time in Skywalker. In my review, I noted she “has maybe, generously, ten minutes of screen time”, but it turns out I was being VERY generous because Violet Kim of Slate did the math and found KMT has one minute and sixteen seconds of screen time. This, naturally, put Terrio on the defensive. Why JJ Abrams isn’t out here making excuses is a mystery, as he is the co-writer AND director, and thus bears slightly more responsibility for character decisions than his co-writer, Terrio. But Terrio is the sacrificial lamb hurled at the fandom in the hopes of saying something that would shut everyone up. Instead, Terrio dumped gasoline on the fire.
First, he blamed Carrie Fisher. He said, “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.” So it’s Carrie Fisher’s f-cking fault for dying, okay?! It would have been fine if Carrie Fisher were alive! It’s not our fault for not coming up with a better idea, alright?! What do you people want, consistent and thoughtful characterizations that build on the momentum of previous films?!
This is obviously a Bad Take, and Terrio had to walk it back, clarifying that he “badly misspoke” and that KMT’s scenes were cut because “Leia’s emotional state in Episode VII did not seem to match the scene we wrote for use in Episode IX, and so it was cut at the script stage before the VFX work was done.”
He’s still blaming Carrie Fisher for not being alive, but he wants everyone to know that the VFX “wizards” at Industrial Light & Magic are amazing and perfect and did nothing wrong, the scene got cut before they did ANY work on it, in no way were the sub-par Leia effects their fault. ILM is great! ILM is good! Still sort of shoveling sh-t onto Carrie Fisher but hey, those guys at ILM rock!
Look, trying to make a movie after a principal actor has passed, using only deleted scenes of that actor from previous movies, is a TALL order. It is not surprising the Skywalker crew ran into some issues. But the problem is not that they had to cut KMT’s scenes because the Leia footage didn’t work out, the problem is that KMT’s scenes were so dependent on Leia in the first place. Leia and Rose Tico have no relationship, and no reason to be working together. Rose exists to be Finn’s moral compass, a reliable and trustworthy companion. She should have been on the Millennium Falcon with Finn and Poe, working as their engineer. Instead, there is a giant banana slug on the Millennium Falcon dinking around with the wires in the background. THEY GAVE ROSE TICO’S JOB TO A GIANT BANANA SLUG.The problem here is that Terrio, and Abrams, could not imagine a better story for Rose Tico—that they didn’t value Rose Tico enough to CARE about giving her a good story. THAT is the problem. It’s not a failure of technology, it’s a failure of imagination.