How Star Wars Prepared Kelly Marie Tran For Her The Croods 2 Role

Dawn in The Croods A New Age and Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico in Star Wars the Last Jedi

Stepping on to a movie set can be an incredible transportive experience. Sure, the reality is broken a little bit by the all of the filmmaking equipment and the people milling around in normal clothes, but special production design can easily whisk away your imagination and let you see yourself in a whole new world. One person who can tell you all about such an experience is Kelly Marie Tran, star of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, and it was actually something that she was able to implement into her performance in her newest movie, The Croods: A New Age.

With the animated sequel set to arrive in theaters in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the wonderful pleasure of hopping on the phone with Kelly Marie Tran to talk her role and performance. In the movie she plays Dawn Betterman, a teenage girl who has spent her entire life sheltered from the dangers of the world behind a wall built by her parents (Leslie Mann, Peter Dinklage). When Emma Stone’s Eep comes along, she inspires Dawn to live a bit more dangerously, and it was while performing scenes where the character is exposed to the outside world that Tran reflected on her time as Rose Tico in the Star Wars universe. Said the actress,

Dawn is someone who is from a very protected environment where she hasn't really experienced parts of the world, and then she meets Eep. And she gets to go out into the world and experience all of these things that almost feel, because it's the first time that she's experiencing them, she has this child-like wonder and everything feels really magical. And for me, that experience was me becoming a working actor, being able to walk around on the Star Wars set.

Obviously that’s not a specific experience that everybody can directly relate to, but it certainly is one that everybody can understand. Prior to being cast by Rian Johnson in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kelly Marie Tran’s credits primarily consisted of roles on episodes of various television shows and short-lived series, but being cast in Star Wars opened her life up to a whole new world – and that was something she could tap into when bringing Dawn to life for The Croods: A New Age.

Continuing, the actor explained that she really didn’t have to stretch too far in general when it came to playing the character, but that allowed her to feel a particular bond with her and deliver more for her performance. Said Tran,

I think that I feel this big kinship with Dawn because that is not so far away from me. I still very much feel that everything that I'm doing in terms of being able to work in this industry at all is attached to that sort of childlike wonder and magical quality that Dawn has.

Directed by Joel Crawford, The Croods: A New Age has a voice cast bursting at the seams with talent, as Kelly Marie Tran, Leslie Mann, Peter Dinklage, and Emma Stone are included on a cast list that also includes Nicolas Cage, Catherine Keener, Ryan Reynolds, Clark Duke, and Cloris Leachman. The film is hitting theaters this week – specifically on Wednesday, November 25 – and will be arriving on VOD in mid-December.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.