Rena Owen Interview12 Aug 2014, Posted by in ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS
Rena Owen Interview
by Mark Dermul
December 1, 2002
Kamino, the watery world just outside of the Rishi Maze, is the homeplanet of this gentle, fragile-looking but very intelligent creature. She’s the right hand of Prime Minister Lama Su and bids Obi-Wan Kenobi a warm welcome when he arrives.Although the character is completely CGI, it does have one very human factor, perfectly performed by a voice artist.
This is our chance to get some answers from Taun We’s alter ego: the acclaimed New Zealand actress and very sympathetic (and poetic) lady Rena Owen.
Mark : Rena, thank you for taking the time to talk to the Belgian fans. How does it feel to be approached by us? It proves that Taun We appeals to audiences all over the world, no?
Rena : I’ve always given my fans top priority, for without an audience, I do not have a job! It is a pleasure, and part of the priviledge of been in the public eye. Indeed, Taun We has proven to be very popular around the world which makes me happy!
I must back track though. You said “she is completely CGI….performed by a voice artist.” True voice over work is when an Actor goes into a sound studio, well after the film has been shot, and lays their voice onto the images. Or uses only their voice only for the likes of radio commercials.
They shot me doing all the scenes, walking and talking, projecting Taun We’s essence etc. Then they go away and do CGI. I’m still in the middle of her, those are definitely “Owen” hips swaying! Allow me to also say, Taun We is a Babe! I think she is sexy! A computer can’t create that, or the energy and spirit of a human being. When a computer can, I am out of a job!!
Mark : In the US, you have found fame as well. It is said that the American fans are quite different from others. Do you have a perspective on that? Did you notice at recent conventions you attended in the US?
Rena : Every country comes with it’s unique culture. To me, who has travelled extensively, the only thing that really changes with people, are the accents, language and the food! But I haven’t done any conventions outside of the USA, so I don’t have anything to compare with.
Mark : Back to your work on Episode II. When and how did you land the part of Taun We?
Rena : I got the phone call July 2000 in New Zealand. My Australian Agent said they were interested in me. I was on my way to the Phillipines to be on the Jury of the Manila Film Festival. Fortunately my flight went via Sydney, and I had a 3 hour stop over. This allowed me the time to travel to Fox Studios to meet with the Casting Director, Robyn Gurland. We talked, ate noodles, and put a few versions of Taun We on tape for George Lucas to watch. I then went straight back to the airport and caught my connecting flight.
Whilst in Manila, I prayed a lot!! I will never forget the moment I found out I got the role. On my second to last day in Manila, I used the business center in the Hotel to check my e mail. And there it was, an e mail from my Agent saying I had got the role. I screamed and laughed loudly, I even kissed the floor! Grateful to God!! They asked if I could go and see them again on my way back to New Zealand, which i did with great pleasure!
Mark : On the set, while shooting, you were wearing a blue hat, similar to the Jar Jar headgear Ahmed Best wore during shooting. How did that work?
Rena : We wanted to give Ewan a proper Taun We eye line. I couldn’t stand on a box as I had to walk, and stilts were deemed to dangerous. A clever crew member came up with the idea of putting Taun We’s cardboard cut out head on top of a helmut. I had so much fun with it!!
Mark : I guess there was a lot of blue screen involved?
Rena : All our scenes were done against blue screen.
Mark : Is there a lot of Rena Owen in Taun We, or the other way around? Or did you try to come up with a whole new ‘personality’ for the Kaminoan aide?
Rena : George Lucas was very clear about the essence of these beings. I worked with the insights he gave me. I enjoyed projecting love and light, and a soothing quality. There is definitely a lot of me in Taun We up on that screen, and I believe we all have an essence of her within us. In fact, the world would be a better place, if our race was more about grace and love!
Mark : What was your impression on the end product? Did you like Episode II and if so, what did you like best of it?
Rena : Enjoyed it tremendously. Favorite scene is when Yoda kicks butt! I love Yoda!!
Mark : Were you familiar with the saga before joining the cast?
Rena : Yes
Mark : Any chance you’ll be in Episode III?
Rena : Only God knows??
Mark : Has it affected your other work? And can you tell us anything else of your other (previous and upcoming) projects?
Rena : It is a privilege to be a part of the Star Wars legacy, and fares well in our Industry! Check my website for my working life. It always involves a lot of travel, and a diversity of work. Theater, film, television, sometimes teaching, writing and community outreach work, too. Wherever the force leads me!
Example, this year, I did 3 feature film, one theater show, a role on the television series “Angel”.
A Graduation speech at Berkerley university. A week in Seattle to help Charity Organizations, who support abused woman and children, to help raise money and awareness.
Mark : So what are your plans for the immediate future (except devouring the box of Belgian chocolates we have sent you – if they get through customs)?
Rena : I’ll let you know about the chocs! I board yet another plane in 3 hours, destination: New Zealand. Purpose…..a much needed holiday, and some quality family time!
Mark : If fans want to see what you are up to, can they point their browsers in your direction?
Rena : Check out www.renaowen.com
Mark : In the private e-mails we shared prior to this interview, you always sounded high spirited, happy and humorous. Even poetic at one time. Is that the influence of the New Zealand weather or are you often in such a good mood?
Rena: The poetic comes from me being an Artist. The 3 h’s come from; I got God! Having a relationship with God, is fulfilling, and helps me to live in faith as opposed to fear. Life is so precious, that is why it is called the “present”, it is a gift! So I don’t believe in wasting it, but have always wanted to live my life to the fullest.
Mark : Lastly, we are offering one of your beautiful signed photos to a lucky reader. Can you present our readers with a question? The lucky reader who gets the answer correctly will get the photo.
Rena : How many “Kiwi” actors appear in the cast of Episode II?…or….What authority commands the ‘Clone Army’?…or….Where is the Planet Kamino located?
Mark : Rena, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a privilege! Hope to see you in Episode III and best of luck to you and yours.
Rena : I gotta get to the airport…..but I have to say to you all; ” Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Have a wonderful 2003!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!