Kelly Marie Tran goes to pub, eavesdrops on The Last Jedi fans, then walks over and says hello

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Dec 18, 2017, 6:51 PM EST

In the character of Rose Tico, a humble mechanic aboard General Leia Organa’s Raddus star cruiser, Kelly Marie Tran already has one of The Last Jedi’s most personal and poignant roles.

Caught up in a space chase that takes a surprisingly adverse turn, Rose steps from the shadows into the spotlight over the course of the movie as she suffers loss, reveals a troubled past, and, finally, achieves a shining moment of sacrifice.

With a character arc like that, it’s pretty cool that Tran was in the right place at the right moment here in the real world for a little public eavesdropping when, on a recent pub outing, she happened to overhear a group of fans at a nearby table enthusiastically discussing their experience after seeing The Last Jedi.

Tran posted her thoughts about the encounter to Instagram, writing a heartfelt reflection on how moving it was for her — after struggling for years as an aspiring actor — to realize that her work now resonates in a personal way for millions and millions of Star Wars fans.

After listening in for a while, wrote Tran, “I awkwardly walked over to introduce myself. They couldn’t be more lovely. What an incredible moment in a string of incredible moments I’ve been experiencing lately…In my 8 years as a struggling actor, I came to the realization that the hardest thing to obtain from another human being is their genuine interest.”

Tran also hit upon one of the great and unique things about the movies as an art form, and especially event movies like The Last Jedi: they bring a whole lot of people together to share the same experience — not only while they’re watching the film, but long after the fact.

“[N]o matter who we are, no matter where we’re from, if we can really listen and have a conversation about something — anything — it can really open up a door. It can open us up to new ideas and new understanding. So thanks, wonderful people, for watching and dissecting and discussing. It makes me happy to know that we made something that’s starting a dialogue.”

Equally cool is one fan’s take on how the encounter with Tran went down. “THIS LITERALLY JUST HAPPENED,” posted Instagram user catmahoney87, who shouted Tran as “the loveliest and the coolest.”

For her part, Tran admits that one of her biggest pleasures, following the film’s release, “has been creepily listening to conversations about TLJ when I’m out and about.”

So if all this fan love has you feeling a little sting in your eye, let’s bring things down to a more practical level: The next time you’re out in public and you’re hanging with your buddies, keep one eye out for Kelly Marie Tran. As John Boyega’s Finn knows all too well, Rose Tico just might be watching and listening.