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Exclusief interview met Nathalie Cuzner (PZ-4CO)

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Nathalie Cuzner

Een van de meest in het oog springende droids uit The Force Awakens is zonder twijfel PZ-4CO, de blauwe protocoldroid met de lange hals. ‘Peazy’ werd in de film gespeeld door Nathalie Cuzner, die in het dagelijks leven totáál iets anders doet dan acteren! Hoog tijd dus om haar wat vragen te stellen; helemaal omdat PZ-4CO qua design een absolute favoriet van me is uit The Force Awakens.

Interview met Nathalie Cuzner

Hi Ms. Cuzner, I’d like to start with asking you how you got into the movie business.

Whilst I was doing my Postgraduate degree -I studied French and Italian at Cardiff University and went on to do a Postgrad in European Literature-, I started working as a Supporting Artist and a Lifestyle Model. Due to my extensive dance background, I was selected to audition as a “monster” back in 2004, for the revived cult TV series, Doctor Who. The audition was a very intensive but wonderful day of various exercises, mini workshops and challenges with the incredibly talented Doctor Who Choreographer and Movement Director, Ailsa Berk. From that day, I went on to play a variety of Doctor Who Monsters for over 10 years, for both television and stage. During this time, I learnt so much from Ailsa and my fellow monsters. Ailsa has been in the industry for a long time and is best known for her work on Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, and also as a Wheeler on one of my childhood favourites, Return to Oz. During my time on Doctor Who, I also had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside the inspirational actor, physical performer and choreographer, Paul Kasey, who played a wide variety of monsters on the series, having had his first experience of playing a monster in the vampire thriller Blade 2.

You play the resistance droid PZ-4CO in The Force Awakens. How exactly did you get this part?

In November 2013, I got a voicemail from someone requesting for my CV. They were currently working on a production and Paul Kasey was the CFX Movement Director and had recommended me. I had no clue what the production was but promptly updated my CV and sent it in the very next day. I didn’t hear anything for over 6 months and assumed I had been unsuccessful.

Out of the blue, I then received a phone call asking if I could go to Pinewood Studios to be measured for a possible role in a production. It wasn’t until I arrived at the studios that I was made aware of what the production was. I was absolutely lost for words! (Something that doesn’t happen very often!) I will never forget that feeling – a mixture of disbelief, excitement, fear, joy and a huge desire to shout “YES!” as loudly as I could! Just for the record, I was able to control myself and thankfully didn’t actually scream anything out loud!

Before I knew it, I was being whisked off to be measured and to meet a variety of exceptionally talented people. I was first introduced to Pierre Bohanna, HOD Modeller. I then had the pleasure of meeting Toby Hawkes, Supervising Modeller and Neil Ellis, Senior Modeller, who had the challenging job of building PZ-4CO from scratch. Last but by no means least, I was introduced to Michael Kaplan, the Costume Designer and then Creature Concept Designer, Jake Lunt, who generously showed me his original drawings of the droid.

It was only as I was driving home that I realised that day was in fact my “audition”.

And as a result you became-as the credits state- a droid puppeteer for The Force Awakens!

PZ-4CO didn’t have her own specific credit. My name was credited alongside my fellow Creature Actors and Puppeteers under the heading of Creature and Droid Puppeteers. All I know is that I was absolutely delighted to see my name up there on the big screen – and in fact, whilst at the cinema, I asked the person in the row in front of me to basically get out of the way, as he was standing right in front of me putting his coat on whilst the credits were rolling. He gave me a bit of a strange look so I had to quickly explain that I was in the film, so he promptly sat down and watched and cheered along with us!

Due to all the secrecy you couldn’t tell anyone you were in the movie, until recently.

Prior to the film’s release, we were forbidden to discuss any aspect of the movie – or indeed, tell anyone other than our immediate family, that we were even working on the film. We definitely could not speak about any role or roles we may be playing. Once the film was released, I waited until I received permission to discuss my role and then made my announcement.

Nathalie Cuzner

Were you a Star Wars fan before you got cast?

Before I got cast, I wouldn’t be able to class myself as a fan sadly. Although I do have very fond memories of it being a big part of my childhood, from trying to put my long hair into Princess Leia style side buns, to wishing I had a pet Ewok! Plus I was always intrigued by and in awe of C-3PO and R2-D2.

What was the first time you saw a Star Wars movie?

I actually cannot remember the first time I saw a Star Wars movie, I would have to ask my older brother. However as soon as I realised I was going to be playing a role in a Star Wars film, I ordered the Star Wars Original Trilogy episodes and watched them all in one afternoon. I think it was at that moment that it started to sink in that I was actually going to be working on a Star Wars film.

I always enjoy the funny, remarkable and weird stories about the things that happened during filming. Do you have any?

Oh I had so much fun filming The Force Awakens and have so many fantastic and cherished memories. Plus each day was remarkable. I was filming Star Wars! With the acclaimed Director J.J. Abrams! It doesn’t get more remarkable or weird than that!

I guess one of my most memorable and most surreal moments was at one of my first rehearsal days. I had been working long and hard with Paul Kasey on several “walks” for the droid. We were rehearsing a scene that we were going to showcase to J.J. Abrams for him to meet the various weird and wonderful creatures who were forming the Resistance. My vision in the suit was rather limited but I could see someone watching me with a lot of intent and interest. When the modellers Toby Hawkes and Neil Ellis came to take the head off of the droid to give me air (she was very heavy and tall so it always took the two guys to put me in her and to take her off of me), this chap who had been watching me started walking over to me. It was at this moment that I realised it was none other than Anthony Daniels. He had a lovely big smile on his face, he took my hand and said “Oh, I have to congratulate you on your walk. It is just delightful. Well done!” I couldn’t have asked for better feedback from a more worthy critic!

Another one that springs to mind was actually the last scene that I filmed, which sadly became a deleted scene. I was doing a close up with John Boyega and after about 10 minutes Toby came up to me and asked if I needed any air or water. Those guys looked after me so well! He used my name when asking this and suddenly John Boyega, who was lying on a gurney, sat bolt upright with a face of both confusion and disbelief and said: “Oh my God, is there an actual person in that?!” I knew at that point that I had done a really good job of making PZ-4CO come alive.

Could you describe an average day on the set of The Force Awakens?

I don’t think there was ever an average day as such but as with all film work, there were many times when we were waiting around, mainly whilst shots were being set up or whilst other scenes were being filmed. But actually some of my most cherished memories are the “hanging about” ones. I was so lucky to work with such a fabulous bunch of fellow Creature Actors and Puppeteers, many of whom have become firm friends, that whenever we weren’t on set, we would be chatting (and very often laughing) away.

A few months before The Force Awakens was released PZ-4CO starred in the Star Wars novel Moving Target, which takes place before the movie. Have you read this novel?

No…but it is now top of my reading list! Thank you for the heads up!

NathalieCuznerPZ4CO

There’s a PZ-4CO action figure! When did you find out you were ‘immortalized’ as a toy and what was your feeling then?

During the filming of The Force Awakens, I was taken to another studio to be “scanned”; a very fascinating and technically brilliant method of taking literally hundreds of photographs to enable a toy to be made to the exact specifications of the droid. It was at this moment that I became aware that she was going to be a Star Wars action figure. I was over the moon about it and couldn’t wait to see her. My mum bought me my first one and she is still in her box, sitting on the shelf above my television.

Episode VIII is currently filming. Any chance we’ll see you as PZ-4CO or another character?

I would love it if they brought PZ-4CO back. I became very fond of her! And of course, it would be wonderful to also play another character. I guess we will all have to wait and see.

Are there new projects or movies you’re currently working on (or will start working on soon)?

I am currently very busy with my regular job. I am a Dance Fitness Instructor and Hypopressive Practitioner and absolutely love what I do. This time of year is always busy with summer fast approaching, plus I am fortunate enough to be invited to be a Guest Presenter at various venues and events all over the UK. But who knows what is around that corner….!

SWIsmallbannerStar Wars Interviews – ‘Mem-Wars’ from a galaxy far, far away…

Geboren toen de opnames van A New Hope van start gingen. Voormalig assistent van Anthony Daniels. Auteur van de 'Star Wars Interviews' boekenreeks waarvoor hij 180+ cast en crewleden interviewde. Trots op zijn vermeldingen in de credits van de boeken The Making of Return of the Jedi, Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor, The Star Wars Historical Sourcebook, The Star Wars Archives en Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

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Interviews

Collector’s Edition: #1 Mark Newbold

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Mark newbold collection 2

Collector’s Edition is een nieuw onderdeel op deze site waar we een aantal vragen stellen aan hele fanatieke Star Wars verzamelaars, over hun passie en over hun collection. In dit eerste deel een kort vraaggesprek met Mark Newbold, oprichter van de site FanthaTracks.com en vaste schrijver voor Star Wars Insider en StarWars.com.

Hi Mark, please introduce yourself!

My name is Mark Newbold. I am the editor in chief of Fantha Tracks and I’ve been writing for StarWars.com, Starburst magazine (the longest running Sci-Fi magazine) and since 2006 for Star Wars Insider. I worked for De Agostini’s, build the Millennium Falcon, right now I am working on the Spanish version of the Fact Files series. I started a website in the ‘90s and there was not so much Star Wars going on at the time. So for a while it was a Star Trek site (don’t tell anybody) and then it became more of a general sci-fi site. And when it was clear in the late ‘90s that Star Wars was coming back, I started with the website and collecting again.

When did you start collecting?

Pretty much since the beginning. I saw the movie a couple of months after the release, it came out in December 1977 in London so probably I saw it in the months after that, I was six at the time. My aunt bought me a Star Wars magazine and that was the very first piece of my collection. In the years after ’83 there was nothing Star Wars anymore, and we made fanfiction. And in the 90’s when it was clear that Star Wars was coming back, I started with the website and collecting again.

What is the focus of your collection? 

The problem is that I have no main focus. I like to collect all little bits and pieces, like stickers and buttons. It took me a bit, but I’ve got all the vintage figures together. I don’t need to have them in mint condition or anything so that made it easier. And I’ve also got a lot of Star Wars books. And I have different formats of soundtracks and audio books, laserdisc and games.

The good thing is I am not a completionist, so I don’t care too much about that. I like to collect small things. I always say that I would not be bothered if everything in my collection room would fit in the palm of my hand. I like it to have it a bit chaotic and have full shelves. Friends can come over and look around and pick things ups and ask questions. The most fun about collecting is the stories behind every piece.

What is the most valuable piece in your collection?

The Art of Star Wars signed by Ralph McQuarrie at a book signing in the mid 90’s. Nobody was in the queue behind me, so I got 5 minutes to talk with him, I wish I could say we had some deep conversations but it was probably small talk about the weather. Later, a friend of mine took the book to a convention in Paris and got it signed by Joe Johnston and that was the only time it left my side. If something would happen or if I could only keep one thing, it would probably be this this book.

What item took you very long to get, but in the end, you found it.

I was searching for years for SP FX: The Empire Strikes Back on VHS  (a television documentary special hosted by actor Mark Hamill, about the special effects of Empire) and I knew a friend of mine had it and after some years he told me that he knew I wanted it. I made him an offer and in the end agreed on half of it and now I have it.

Any big wishes you have or white whales that you are after?

Luckily I  don’t have one now. Like I said I love to collect everything, and I am not a completionist. It’s a shame because I like to look for something and search for something. It was a lot of fun in the days before the internet. I loved going to conventions and comic stores searching for that special missing piece.

I know from your social media that you visited Steve Sansweet at Rancho Obi-Wan, what is your relationship with him?

I contacted him when I was writing a piece for Star Wars Insider about the connection of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. And he was at the time still working for Lucasfilm so he could help me with advice on that article. And couple of years later I interviewed him for Star Wars Insider, and we stayed in contact through social media. I met him again at a convention and we became friends. I was at Rancho Obi-Wan for the Guinness Book of Records party. And a couple of times after that. we stayed at Steve’s house and hade breakfast with him, he is a very friendly and very funny guy. If you have the chance to visit Rancho Obi Wan, you should definitely do so!

De verzameling van Mark Newbold

Volg Mark Newbold op FanthaTracks.com en op Twitter @Prefect_Timing

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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Nick Stanner (Stunt performer – The Mandalorian)

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Wat zou Star Wars zijn zonder goede stuntlui? Iemand moet de stormtrooper zijn die door een vlammenwerper in rook opgaat of van een rots af valt!

In The Mandalorian ging stuntman Nick Stanner meer dan 30 keer ‘dood’ en was hij als diverse personages te zien. Van Mandalorian tot stormtrooper! Onlangs interviewde ik hem voor StarWarsInterviews.com en zoals altijd is het ook hier te lezen!


How did your journey in movies start? How and why did you become a stuntman?

Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska I was not around film at all. I grew up competing in Gymnastics for my parents’ club all the way through college. I was always flipping off something and in eighth grade I remember watching a movie, not sure which one, but I mentioned I wanted to “do that” as I pointed at the screen. My mom asked if I wanted to be an actor, and I said, “No, I wanna do the cool stuff!” Mom said Oh a stuntman?! I said yeah, and went back to being an eighth grader. Fast forward to after college, I was looking for a new apartment in Lincoln Nebraska where I went to collegians was telling my mom and she said, “I thought you said you wanted to go be a stuntman! When are you going to do that?” The second I heard my mom say that and I knew she supported me no matter where I was, I decided to leave. I headed to Florida to get involved with the live stunt shows at the theme parks like Indiana Jones at Disney, Sindbad at Universal and many others in the Orlando area. Once I got into some of those shows I started to meet people in the film industry.

How did you manage to get hired for The Mandalorian TV series?

One of my best friends that I met at the very first show I did when I moved to Florida was Ryan Watson, the Stunt and Fight Coordinator for The Mandalorian now. We have known each other since 1999. He is one of the best in the industry for fights and creative camera work.

Which characters did you play as a stuntman? The Mandalorian himself?

I played a mandalorian, but not THE Mandalorian. The Mandalorian stunt double is Lateef Crowder. He is amazing with movement. I played numerous characters. I died 32 times in the first eighth episodes, many as a stormtrooper. I did all the high falls so any time someone falls from a roof, that’s me. You can count at least four in the final battle in episode 1. 3 falls in one circle of the gun and one when IG-11 shoots me before they walk in the door. That’s a couple examples, but I am all over the place. I also was the green face guy with Carl Weathers and speeder bike trooper.

You just mentioned that you ‘died’ 32 times. What was your favorite death scene?

Each death was unique. My favorite is high falls, which is why I get to do them all, but being torched by mandos flame thrower as a stormtrooper.

Which of these characters was your favorite?

They are all fun to play, but there is nothing like being a jet pack mandalorian flying on wires. Kids dream come true!

Did you meet the Mandalorian himself, Pedro Pascal? How was he to work with?

I met everyone and worked with the whole cast! It’s an amazing crew with no lack of talent and everyone is very down to earth. Being there every day, I had a chance to get to know everyone pretty well. Pedro is a jokester so we got along great. I’m a big comedy fan so I enjoyed Bill Burr.

Did any weird or funny things happen on or off the set?

There were a few funny moments on set. Lots of laughs all around really but when it was time to work playtime was over. Off the set there was plenty of laughs and good times. When you’re working 10-14-hour days it takes the whole crew to keep everyone in good moods and in the film biz there is no shortage of laughs.

What is your favorite anecdote regarding the production of The Mandalorian?

My fave laughs, not sure of anecdote, was when Bill burr would mess with the crew. He has such quick wit and had the entire crew laughing!

Were you a Star Wars fan before you got cast?

I was a so-so Star Wars fan. I liked the movies, mainly the first 3, and saw them pretty young. Being involved has brought me a little deeper into the world but I would not consider myself a diehard fan.

The question I have to ask every stuntman: what is the most dangerous stunt you’ve ever done?

Most dangerous stunt would be getting hit by car in Death Sentence with Kevin Bacon, or a 9-story high fall while being lit on fire, but it could be being hung underneath a helicopter by 75 feet of cable and flown over Los Angeles! Hard to pick just one, they are all super fun to me!


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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Jake Cannavale (Toro Calican)

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In aflevering 5 van The Mandalorian maakten we kennis met de jonge premiejager Toro Calican, gespeeld door Jake Cannavale. Speciaal voor zustersite StarWarsInterviews.com beantwoordde hij kort enkele vragen!


How did you get cast for The Mandalorian and were you a Star Wars fan?

They asked my agent if I would like to be in it. And I’m a massive fan and always will be.

How did the shooting of your scenes (most of them with Pedro Pascal) go?

They went very well. There was not a single difficult person to work with on that entire set. In my so far very short career that’s already not something I take lightly. Pedro Pascal was awesome! Mad love to Pedro.

You were directed by Dave Filoni, who many fans see as George Lucas’ heir. What is your opinion of him?

Other than the fact that he genuinely loves The Phantom Menace I have literally nothing bad to say about Dave. He’s the man. I loved working with him as an actor, and I have nothing but faith in him as a fan.

Did any weird or funny things happen on or off the set?

During me and Ming’s fight scene, Dave told her stunt double -whose name is also Ming- to actually kinda beat me up…it looked fantastic.

What is the best memory you have regarding The Mandalorian?

Probably knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that I can pull off a blue leather outfit.

Besides acting you’re also a musician in a band called Vixen Maw. How would you describe the music you make and who are your musical influences?

Vixen Maw is an experimental grindcore band. I would describe us as the musical equivalent of getting lobotomized by an unlicensed brain surgeon with Parkinson’s disease and medical fetishism. I don’t like to speak on behalf of my band members (or anyone, as a general rule) but I can say we are all pretty eclectic in terms of our musical tastes, with extreme music being the anchor, or epicenter, so to speak. So our influences are pretty all over the place. I will say that we are currently writing a new album from our own respective quarantine spots and some of the bands I’ve been listening to for inspiration include Chepang, Bandit, Narayama, Vulva Essers, Cloud Rat, Botch, Wormrot, Coke Bust, Gulch, and Bryan Adams.

You’re almost 25 years old. Where do you see yourself in 10 years and what are your career goals?

In ten years I see myself hopefully having had enough memorable screen time to be sampled in some kids shitty grindcore band that his parents are sick of hearing rehearse from their garage. Also I would genuinely love to be writing for a living. Theater, film and animated television.


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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Richard Stride (Poggle)

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Door de jaren heen is er de meest grappige en bizarre Star Wars trivia in boeken en op internet verschenen, maar wat de geur(!) van de Death Star plannen was -tot vandaag!- goed bewaard gebleven!

In een interview met zustersite StarWarsInterviews.com deelt Richard Stride (die aan Attack of the Clones en Revenge of the Sith meewerkte) een leuke anecdote.


How did you get started in the movie business and how did you get the parts of Poggle and a Clone Trooper in Star Wars?

I went to drama school at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts and in 1993 I graduated and went straight into a Hollywood movie called First Knight. I actually was originally cast as Obi-Wan’s double for the films Episode II and III. However, I gained many extra characters along the way.

How did you play Poggle?

I was in motion capture suit and had a great scene with the late Christopher Lee. When filming the scene with Christopher Lee, with the Death Star plans, I made a remark to the props guy that how clever even the smallest props where in design and craftsmanship in even the Death Star Plans. He started to laugh which was strange and when I asked him what was so funny he told me they had forgot to make them and he had to dash out the day before and went to Halfords and it actually was a car air freshener. So I told Christopher Lee when handing over the Death Star plans it was something to freshen the whole Galaxy with.

Can you share some of your memories regarding the time you worked on both movies?

I loved it. I spent all my time on set and didn’t really go to the green room as it was so much more interesting to watch other peoples scenes etc. It was lovely to be part of a big family on set and chat to so many interesting people.

How did George Lucas direct you?

He is a very visual director and has a very clear idea of what he is after. You have to put your trust fully in a director as they can see everything, and that’s what I did.

Did they give you any memorabilia after the movie was finished?

I was given a T-shirt and a signed call sheet on the last day of filming and a personal thankyou of George Lucas.

When was your first encounter with the Star Wars phenomena?

I saw it as a child on TV and loved it. I watch it over and over again.

What are your thoughts on the two Star Wars movies you were in? 

I liked them and they are great movies to keep returning to as you learn something new each time.

What do you regard as the highlight of your career so far?

I loved doing Star Wars, but also Shakespeare in Love, and playing Hamlet for the stage.


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