Anton, Sidney en Ramon spraken haar op Heroes Dutch Comic Con
Onlangs kregen wij de mogelijkheid om Amy Allen te interviewen, de Amerikaanse actrice die voor Star Wars fans vooral bekend staat om haar rol als Aayla Secura in Attack of the Clones (2002) en Revenge of the Sith (2005).
Amy Allen was te gast op Heroes Dutch Comic Con 2023 (Summer Edition), waar Anton, Sidney en ik de gelegenheid kregen om haar een aantal vragen te stellen. Het was tevens de eerste keer dat wij een video-interview hielden, met dank aan Anton en Sidney kunnen jullie de video-impressie van het interview hieronder en op ons gereïncarneerde YouTube-kanaal bekijken!
You’ve actually played several characters in Star Wars, not just Aayla Secura. Not a lot of people are aware of that! There’s also Mya Nalle, Yma Nalle, and Lela Nalle Mayn – which are all anagrams of your own actual name. Who came up with the idea to name those characters after you, and how do you feel about it?
I actually don’t know who ultimately came up with the names, I’m not sure if it was a George Lucas thing or if someone else named the characters. They’re all different takes on my first and last name.
I believe Lucasfilm has done this several times, with other employees as well – for example Nick Gillard the stunt coordinator who has a character named Cin Drallig?
Yes, there’s lots of cross-overs with employees’ and character names – things like that.
Does that make you the actor who has portrayed more named live-action Star Wars characters than any other actor?
That, I don’t know!
Did you have any conversation at some point with comic artist Jan Duursema, the creator of Aayla Secura?
I did, I met her after playing the character in the films. I met her at my very first Star Wars Celebration. I was introduced to her because she drew the cover of the comic book. So yes, I did know her prior to that – but I met her at Celebration. And then she ended up taking some reference photos that she used moving forward after that to make sure the character resembled my likeness a little bit more in the comics. Which was really cool!
So it was mainly George Lucas who gave you pointers during filming?
Yes, well it all happened very quickly. We obviously did a bit of research, we put together a costume before we put together the actual costume that we filmed in and we took some polaroids and sent them to George Lucas for approval and then once he approved it we went forward with making the costume. It was fun!
You’ve also done a lot of work behind the camera as well.
Yeah, and some of the stuff on IMDB is accurate, but some of it’s not!
Is there anything you could tell us about your work behind the camera?
I’ve worked several years for a producer and that was one of the best times, because I always wanted to be on a big set and I had a great boss and had a lot of really cool experiences that way. And after I worked for him I worked for another director for a couple of years, and then I ultimately left and had my family. But yeah, I had a good run working in production, it was great to work on live-action movies.
Is it true that you’ve also worked at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)?
Yes, that’s where I started. That was my first job out of college. My roommate, who was someone I grew up with in southern California, was already working in the art department. So she’s the one who ultimately passed my name along and got me my first interview. So that was a pretty cool place to work at, right out of college.
How did you make the switch from behind the scenes to on-screen work?
As a production assistant on Star Wars, my production manager at the time basically put a photocopy of the character, a black-and-white comic cover, on my desk. He said that I looked like this character and asked me if I would want to do this. It was all happening last-minute, before the release of Attack of the Clones. And I said yes!
Do you remember how many days you had to shoot for such a relatively minor role?
It was just a few days, everything happened very quickly, we obviously had to get the costume together pretty quickly. Fortunately I was able to work with the assisting costume supervisor, Gillian Libbert, who is amazing! And she put together the costume, and it all happened really quickly. We also had a great makeup artist as well, it was just a really good team, and we had a lot of fun.
Would you describe yourself as a Star Wars fan as well?
What’s your view on the current state of Star Wars, is there a movie or series that you like in particular?
I love it all, I think it’s great. I know there are lots of different opinions about the various things of Star Wars, but I honestly love it. I feel really blessed to be part of it. It’s a great thing to be included in obviously! I love all the new series because I can watch them with my kids. We just watched season 3 of The Mandalorian as a family. I think it’s great, it’s really keeping it alive and that’s awesome! My kids can now watch the original movies, the prequels, ofcourse we also watch The Clone Wars, we watch everything, but it’s nice to see that it’s still going and that it’s still going so strong.
Did your children believe you when you told them that the blue Twi’lek on the screen is you?
Yeah, it’s a funny thing. It’s not until they’re a little older that they really understand, but they have fun with it. They love going to conventions too!
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but last week both Aayla Secura and Shaak Ti actually reappeared in the Star Wars comics.
I am aware actually, I’ve heard about it. It’s pretty cool!
Aayla Secura also returned in The Rise of Skywalker (2019), or at least her voice did as voice actress Jennifer Hale returned to portray her voice. How do you feel about voice-actors playing the voice of live-action characters?
I think it’s great, it’s their profession and I think it’s awesome.
Do Star Wars fans actually recognize you in real life?
Sometimes, yes! There’s a lot of Star Wars fans out there, so every once in a while someone will come up to me. Which I think is cool, I love those moments. It doesn’t happen very often, but that’s okay!
Do you have any memorable encounters with fans in the wild? Or maybe at a convention?
I’ve been doing this now for almost twenty years, and it’s really been a positive environment, always a lot of fun, always people being really happy to be there, asking questions, asking what your experience was like, it’s overall just very positive and fun.
How did you feel the first time when someone told you that they named their child after Aayla?
That’s a whole.. I mean, that’s crazy. It’s happened quite a few times, actually. And it’s obviously very touching, it’s pretty wild. That, and when people show you their tattoos. Those are the two things when you realize you’ve really made an impact on someone, and you realize how strong Star Wars is. And it’s such a compliment, it makes you feel really good.
Do you have any advice for young people who aspire to be an actor in a big franchise like Star Wars?
Honestly, acting wasn’t my goal in the first place. I went to film school, I got a degree in film, I made studio films, I did lots of stuff when I was younger, but I didn’t really intend to go that route (acting in a big movie). I wanted to be behind the camera, in production. I got this job in visual effects, which was a great learning experience for me. I ultimately landed where I wanted to be, not that I didn’t want to be in visual effects, but I didn’t know much about it, so in the few years that I was there I obviously learned a lot and I was just fortunate to have the experience that I did and I was lucky to get the job at ILM at a young age, because that was basically my launching pad into a lot of other really amazing job opportunities.
Amy, thank you so much for your time!
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