Raya and the Last Dragon Production Diaries

Raya and the Last Dragon, the latest animated entry from Walt Disney Animation Studios, hits theaters and Disney+ with Premier Access this Friday, which means it’s time for a fun little behind-the-scenes look at the flick. The video below features Kelly Marie Tran, who voices the eponymous character, showing off the makeshift recording studio she set up at home to record her lines. It’s not exactly the most in-depth behind-the-scenes video, but it’s pretty darn charming.

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kelly marie tran interview

Kelly Marie Tran unsurprisingly sees a lot of herself in Raya, the newest Disney Princess and the tough heroine of the upcoming fantasy epic Raya and the Last Dragon. Not just because the lone warrior’s honeyed skin and Southeast Asian-inspired garb indicates a shared ethnicity with the Vietnamese-American actress, but because Tran “imbued a lot of myself and my past experiences in specific scenes.”

“I think if I leave a project and I’ve done it the right way, I won’t be able to see where I end and where Raya begins, and vice versa,” Tran told /Film in a Zoom interview ahead of Raya and the Last Dragon‘s release in theaters and on Disney+ Premier.

Playing Raya may have seemed like fate for Tran, but she came about to the role in an unusual way — replacing original voice actress Cassie Steele — and performed the voice for the film in an even more unusual way, forced to turn her house into a makeshift recording studio amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But it was the only way it could have turned out for Tran, who described the fateful day in January 2020 that she walked into a recording booth to try her hand at voicing Disney’s first Southeast Asian Princess. “I walked into that room, and it really felt like — this is gonna sound crazy — but it really felt like someone was looking out for me,” Tran said.

Read our full Kelly Marie Tran interview below, in which the actress talks about improvising her lines, father-daughter dynamics, and how she hopes Raya and the Last Dragon can open the door for more Southeast Asian representation.

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LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special poster and cast

In 1978, CBS aired The Star Wars Holiday Special, a gauzy, cocaine-fueled whatsit that gave birth to Boba Fett and was then quickly disowned by everyone. The special became an infamous must-see trainwreck, pirated over the years and never officially released on home media. It was, for a while, something some people would rather forget all about.

But over the years, folks have come to embrace the special in a so-bad-it’s-good way. And now, Disney+ is giving it a sequel! Sort of. The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is an animated follow-up that features characters from the Star Wars sequel trilogy on Life Day, the Star Wars equivalent of Christmas. Ahead of the special’s November release, a delightful new poster has appeared, along with some casting news – Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) will all be reprising their roles from the films.

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Monsterland Trailer

After Labor Day rolls around, there’s not much left to celebrate in September…which means everyone just starts getting in the Halloween spirit a little early. Hulu is already preparing for serious spooks with the release of the trailer for Monsterland, a new horror anthology series based on Nathan Ballingrud’s story collection North-American Lake Monsters. If this trailer is any indicator, then these stories are going to keep you up at night. Read More »

Raya and the Last Dragon concept art

Walt Disney Animation has unveiled the first look at Raya and the Last Dragon. The upcoming fantasy-adventure animated film has only teased gorgeous pieces of concept art until now, but today, we finally got to see the Raya and the Last Dragon first look image in its fully-rendered CG glory. Along with the release of the new image, Disney has announced the casting of Kelly Marie Tran in the lead role of the Southeast Asian warrior princess Raya, making the Star Wars: The Last Jedi star the first Southeast Asian actress to lead a Disney film.

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Lord of the Rings Visual Effects

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, watch as visual effects artists react to more scenes from Lord of the Rings, including the Battle of Helm’s Deep and the Balrog fighting Gandalf. Plus, an SAS soldier reviews the accuracy of military scenes in movies like Commando and American Sniper, and the cast of the new Star Wars trilogy reveals which questions they never want to answer again. Read More »

rose tico tv show

When Kelly Marie Tran made her debut in Star Wars: The Last Jedi as the lowly Resistance mechanic Rose Tico, she represented several things rarely seen in a Star Wars film: she was the first woman of color to play a lead in a Star Wars movie and she was the first character in the main feature film franchise to give a voice to the countless victims of the war raging throughout the galaxy far, far away. In a sci-fi franchise about princesses and smugglers and chosen heroes, Rose Tico was the normal civilian who rose to be a hero and articulated the overall message of The Last Jedi: “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love.”

But in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Rose was all but missing from action. Barely acknowledged by Finn, her presumable love interest with whom she had just gone on a planet-hopping journey, and reduced to looking at starship plans for two hours, she was badly sidelined in the movie (apparently due to technical troubles). But Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu has a solution: a Rose Tico TV show on Disney+. And he is offering to direct it.

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star wars the rise of skywalker rose

UpdateStar Wars: The Rise of Skywalker co-writer Chris Terrio walked back his comments blaming the limits of CGI technology on the cut scenes between Kelly Marie Tran and Carrie Fisher, who appeared through previously shot footage.

Calls of “Where’s Rose?” spread throughout the Internet leading up to the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, after Kelly Marie Tran was notably absent from marketing materials and trailers. But even after the final film of the Skywalker Saga hit theaters, that question still remained. Tran was introduced in Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a Rose Tico, a new lead in the massive sci-fi franchise and the first woman of color to co-lead a Star Wars film. After making her mark in the acclaimed 2017 film as a spark of hope and the voice of the victims of war, it seemed like the former Resistance mechanic was destined for greatness in the next sequel. But it turns out all she was destined for was 1 minute and 16 seconds of screen time.

Read on for an explanation from one of the film’s writers about Rose she ended up with such a limited role in the movie. Spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker follow.

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Rose Missing from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Merchandise

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out, there was a cry from fans regarding the absence of Daisy Ridley as Rey in some of the merchandise that was hitting shelves leading up to the release of the movie. She was one of the leads of the film, but she wasn’t seen nearly as prominently in merchandise as either John Boyega as Finn, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, or even Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. Now it appears it’s déjà vu all over again with Rose Tico missing from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker merchandise and marketing. And she’s not just missing. She’s been intentionally removed. Read More »

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rise of skywalker standees

It’s Triple Force Friday, which means there are all sorts of Star Wars-themed things being unleashed upon a defenseless public. From this comes the tiniest glimmers of new pieces of info from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. As is usually the case for these movies, we know very little about what we’re in store for. A teaser has been released for the movie, as have several promotional images, but we still haven’t seen any glimpse of Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico. Nor have we seen Dominic Monaghan‘s mysterious character.

Until now! Some new Rise of Skywalker standees have given us our first glimpse of these characters. Now it’s time to speculate!

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