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5/31/2004 -- A new fan fiction has been posted. Visit our Fan Fiction department to read our touching and powerful tale about Tahiri Veila, and her struggle to come to terms with Anakin Solo's death in, "The Touch".

5/23/2004 -- Another character image has been added to our Logan Chronicles audio drama section. This time it is the rebellious stormtrooper, Algar!

5/18/2004 -- The first character image has been added to our Logan Chronicles audio drama section. Stop by and take a look at the first character to come to life: Logan!

5/14/2004 -- Well, our behind-the-scenes look at The Lost Patrol has finally concluded. Read about the post-production process and my final thoughts on the project. Stay tuned, however, as a major addition will be coming soon to The Lost Patrol section.


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Interview

Rena Owen gave life to the Kamino character, Taun We, in Attack of the Clones, and has performed in numerous motion pictures including Once Were Warriors, The Crow: Wicked Prayer and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode III. Learn more about her at her website: www.renaowen.com.

Star Wars: Myth & Magic — 1. How did you get started as an actress?

Rena Owen — I began as a child entertaining tourists with traditional Maori singing and dancing, then went on to perform in our college musical productions. My first stage role was when I was 16 years old as Bloody Mary in South Pacific. The following year I received the leading role in Calamity Jane.

SW:MM — 2. Why acting?

RO — I believe I was born to be an artist. With a hypersensitivity and an innate sense of drama. I discovered as a teenager that I had a natural talent towards acting and thoroughly loved being on the stage and making all the little kids laugh!

SW:MM — 3. You have also written and directed several stage plays. Is this something you would like to do again?

RO — I have always seen myself as an artist, and while acting provides one vehicle to creativity, writing and directing equally satisfy me on an artistic level. I will continue to do act, and possibly go on to write and direct for the screen. I’ve also recently journeyed into producing my first New Zealand feature film, but I don’t necessarily want to specialize in producing. I prefer the creative side more than the business side.

SW:MM — 4. Many of your roles have taken you around the world, from New Zealand to London to Los Angeles. How do these places differ in terms of your experience?

RO — I have been fortunate to have travelled around most of the world, and in simplistic terms, the only thing that really differs country to country is the accent, diet, architecture and scenery. The human condition remains constant globally, and a city is a city!

SW:MM — 5. How did you get involved in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones?

RO — I was asked to audition for it. The casting director, Robyn Gurland, and I believe George Lucas, had seen Once Were Warriors and were both keen to get Temuera and myself into Episode II. I was very flattered to be asked to return for Episode III, but as a new character.

SW:MM — 6. Since your role was computer generated, were you ever actually on set, or did you do your voice work in a recording studio? What was that process like?

RO — I was more then just the voice. I spent a week in Sydney doing Episode II. They shot me doing all the walking and talking for my scenes. Then they went away and CGI’d the Taun We character, not unlike the Gollum process for Lord of the Rings trilogy. A year after shooting, I went to the Skywalker Ranch to clean up the voice track. I totally enjoyed all aspects of the process and felt like a big kid in an enormous playground. I particularly enjoyed working with Ewan McGregor and being reunited with Temuera Morrison on Episode II and also enjoyed being in Sydney with all the cast for three weeks last year to do Episode III.

SW:MM — 7. Were you familiar with Star Wars prior to playing a role in it?

RO — Like most of the world, I had seen the [original trilogy] Star Wars, but it was not really a saga that I followed, since I'm not really a sci-fi fan. However, I did watch Episode I as part of my research for doing Episode II.

SW:MM — 8. Between the Hercules and Xena television series, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, New Zealand has become very prominate in the entertainment industry. How has this attention changed or affected your country?

RO — Indeed, my home country has become a competitive international film location. Tom Cruise shot The Last Samurai in [New Zealand], and this year, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will be shot there. There are also many more shows that have filmed in NZ, including the ones you mentioned. I believe it will continue to be an attractive location for both film and television. Overall, this has been good for our country’s economy and for tourism.

SW:MM — 9. Once Were Warriors brought the Maori culture to the forefront in a way never seen before. How did you get involved in that project?

RO — I auditioned for the role of Beth Heke. Unbeknownst to me, the director, Lee Tamahori, already had me in mind to play the role. He had seen a lot of my theater and television work. He knew I had the skill, technique and strength to carry the role. Though I did not take the role for granted, I went home and prayed hard that I would get the part, because it was a role I really wanted!

SW:MM — 10. Did you or any other person in the cast expect the film to become such a success?

RO — Yes, I had a very strong instinct that the film had the potential to do really well because it dared to deal with topics that were longing to jump out of the closet, and I knew Lee would stylize the film and give it commercial elements that would help it succeed. We also had a screenplay to die for, an excellent cast, as well as the best person to direct it. But nothing is gauranteed. I wasn’t surprised when it topped the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park to become the top NZ film — a record it still holds. It also made Time magazine’s Top 10 list of the best films in the world in 1995, along with Peter Jackson's, Heavenly Creatures.

SW:MM — 11. How important are films like that in improving awareness of the Maori people and their heritage?

RO — Very important. Once Were Warriors put the Maori people onto the international map. Not just as a culture, but also as filmmakers. Most people around the world didn’t realize that an indigenous race even existed in [New Zealand] before seeing the film. Once again, we’ve had another hit with Whale Rider. I’m very proud of the fact that New Zealand’s most commercially successful films to date have been Maori stories.

SW:MM — 12. What do you look for in a role?

RO — I firstly look at the project as a whole, because that is what you ultimately become a part of. In the script, I look for originality, something new to offer, a strong story line with interesting characters. It can be comedy, drama, sci-fi, whatever, as long as the story is worth telling. At the end of the day, I believe an actor and director are only as good as their script. At the same time, the people I may get to work with also influences my choices.

SW:MM — 13. What do you think is the most important thing a person must understand to be an actor?

RO — What it is to be human — unless you’re playing an alien! Ultimately, an actor’s job is to portray aspects of the human condition. With each role, I ask the same questions, “Who am I?” and “How did I get to be this way?” Behind the scenes, my job is to answer those question as thoroughly as possible so when someone watches the film, they should experience the world of the character, not the actor. Sensitivity and imagination are also incredibly important qualities for an actor to have.

SW:MM — 14. How did you get involved in Sundance?

RO — The first time I ever attended the Sundance Film Festival was in 1995 with Once Were Warriors, and most recently this year with the Rotuman film, The Land Has Eyes. Quite a few years ago, I was invited to assess some scripts for the Sundance Native Program. It is an institution I will always support.

SW:MM — 15. When on the “selection panel”, what did you look for when making your decisions?

RO — Well crafted scripts with strong story lines and interesting characters that you care about. The screenplays needed to feature originality and be well executed.

SW:MM — 16. What can you tell us about your upcoming role in Episode III?

RO — I play a new Senator who is a human.

SW:MM — 17. Assuming you have had the opportunity, do you find it challenging to act against a blue screen?

RO — In Episode II, all our scenes were done against blue screen, and it was a lot of fun, but challenging. I also did a short film in Hawaii, which has not been released yet, that was also against blue/green screens. I don’t mind working with them at all. If anything, I think it’s good for actors because you really have to use your imagination.

SW:MM — 18. Now that you are part of the Star Wars phenomenon, what are your thoughts on its wide appeal?

RO — When I did Episode II, I really had no idea of the world I had entered and become a part of for life. I consider it an honor and a pleasure to be a part of something that clearly means so much to so many people around the world. Because of SW, I have been immortalized in plastic! Oh, to be an action figure!

SW:MM — 19. How would you describe your experience working on the Star Wars films?

RO — In all ways, memorable! Cherished memories, a wonderful learning experience, and a whole lot of fun!

SW:MM — 20. If you had Jedi powers, what would you do with them?

RO — Use them for good. Eliminate all war and restore peace and respect for the gift of life.

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