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TEMUERA MORRISON

COMMANDER CODY in STAR WARS Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Interview by Mark Walters

featuring special guest Matthew Wood, the voice of General Grievous!

I've been lucky enough to become buddies with Temuera Morrison, who is easily one of the best actors ever to come out of New Zealand.  Tem plays Commander Cody, as well as all the clone troopers, in REVENGE OF THE SITH.  He recently came back to Dallas to be a guest at the SCI-FI EXPO, and promote the new STAR WARS movie.  So after the show we decided to go out to unwind and have a drink.  It had been a long weekend, and we were all tired.  The following interview was done in the car, so things got a little goofy from time to time.  Matt Wood even added a few notes.  Hope you all enjoy!

 MARK: Let's start by talking about when you got the call to work on Episode III.  What were you told from the beginning, and how much did you know about your part?

TEMUERA: I was told nothing.  I was told not to say anything.  I was told just to turn up in Sydney.  I was told to go to wardrobe, and put on this blue lycra outfit.  It was a little bit tight around the crotch area.

MARK: A little snug?

TEMUERA: It was a little snug.  I actually had to ask wardrobe for another version of my blue suit.

MATT: Just to set the stage should we tell them where we're headed right now?

TEMUERA: We're in the car with Mark, and... fanboy.com?

MARK: BIG-fanboy.com.

TEMUERA: Bigfanboy.com.

MARK: This is going to be the greatest interview ever.

Darth Maul Premium Format Figure TEMUERA: Whoever would call a website that, I'm not sure if I should even be conversing with them.

MATT: What about bigboy.com?

TEMUERA: Big boy?  What the &#%! is that, big-FAN-boy.com?

MATT: Where are we going?

TEMUERA: We're on our way, we're in Texas.  We're in Dallas, heading on some highway...

MARK: We're on 75.

TEMUERA: Just out of RIchardson on 75.  It's about 10:21 pm, and it's a nice still night in Texas.  We just had a big steak, and now we're off to look at some other kind of... uh... beef.

MARK: Oh my God.

TEMUERA: Some other form of meat.  No, I can't say where we're going.

MARK: This is journalistic gold.

TEMUERA: No, no, I can't say where we're going.  This is an interview situation, and we have to be professional.  It's just a beautiful night, and we're hanging.  We're just groovin', and we're cruisin' on the 75.  Okay, what's another question?

(laughter all around)

MARK: Well I didn't want to stop ya...

(we pass under the high-five interchange structure, which really is pretty overwhelming)

TEMUERA: Look at this, it's like a scene from STAR WARS, these cross junctions of freeways here.

MARK: Yeah.  It's like Coruscant.

TEMUERA: This is Kamino.  Kamino in the desert.

MARK: Alright, so how long did you shoot for?

TEMUERA: Not very long, not that long.  It was "Action.  Look left.  Look right."  Didn't do too much on Episode III, you know what I mean?  They created me.  They created the costume, it was all a big product of our imagination.  I wasn't even there.

MARK: Obviously you had days of shooting on film...

TEMUERA: On video, yes I did.

MARK: Did you have separate days of voice recording?

TEMUERA: Yeah, I was talking to George.  Nowadays with all the latest technology I can sit in a studio in Auckland (New Zealand), the boys are in San Francisco recording, it all happens over the telephone now.

MARK: So you were recording your voice from home?

TEMUERA: Yes, we can generally do that now.

MATT: I was on the other end of that phone call.

TEMUERA: Yeah that's right, General Grievous back there.  He's generally on the other side, the technician side.  He was like "Hey it's Matt here, we're gonna do some more lines."  I'm like "Who am I today Matt?"

MATT: Temuera was some of the best looping tests we ever had.  He kept going, I don't know if it was a gimmick or what, but every time we said "Okay we need some miscellaneous orders for the battlefield"  It was like "Move left.  Move right.  Get down here.  Cover that corner, move left."  And we'd say to do about five or six.  We'd say "Go ahead", and he would always be like "MOVE LEFT!  MOVE RIGHT!  MOVE LEFT!  MOVE RIGHT!  COVER THAT CORNER!  MOVE LEFT!"  And we'd yell cut... he would just keep going.  "RIGHT!  COVER IT UP!  GET OVER HERE!!  I'M DOWN!!!  GET OFF ME!!!  ARRGGH!"  And we were just cracking up, everyone's cracking up.  Rick was just laughing.  It was awesome, he was just great.

TEMUERA: Yeah I would just give them a few variations.  Used to be funny.  You know STAR WARS is the only movie you can be in for two seconds and be famous.

MARK: Right.  But you're in it more than two seconds.

TEMUERA: I'm not in it a lot, but there's a lot of me in it.

MARK: I think what a lot of people still don't realize is that the animation is so good these days that it's hard to tell that those suits are just CGI.  So there was never any actual suit that you got to wear, or any helmets, it was all just sort of implied? 

TEMUERA: Generally it was, yes.  Except for those blue lycra costumes I was talking about.  They said we'll just put the costume in later.  But on occasion they had the images of the soldiers ready.  That was already in place, but if the facial image was too close to the program, they'd have to actually use off-cuts of my own face, and they would have to stick them on the troopers that were already full, that were walking around headless.

Temuera Morrison as Commander Cody (right) talks to Obi-Wan Kenobi, while other clones look on.


MARK: Now when you played Jango Fett, you were portraying him as kind of a tough guy character, where in this movie you're playing clones.  Were you told to portray it as more of a cold, sort of emotionless type of character?

TEMUERA: We never got into those nuances.  You generally turn up and...

MARK: "Okay Tem, action!"

TEMUERA: Yeah, action.  "What's my lines again here?"  Then of course I guess the clones are kind of based on Jango anyway.  He wanted a perfect replica of himself. 

MARK: So it's essentially the same attitude?

TEMUERA: It's the same everything I think, with a a few scars an a few exterior things that make him look a bit different.  I'm kind of one of those characters that I'm always just the same anyway.  Kind of hard to break him into any kind of character.  Originally with Jango I always thought of Clint Eastwood all the time, with JOSEY WALES and DIRTY HARRY.  You know the scene where "You got four bullets or six bullets or five bullets."  He's already fired a few off.  I kind of liked that guy when I was growing up.  So everything I did with Jango I related to Clint.  Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry in space.

MARK: How does it feel to you to be such an integral part, not only just as Jango, but all the clones troopers?  I mean now you are recognized as that all those clone troopers are you.  So how does it feel to be such an integral part of the STAR WARS universe?

TEMUERA: It's a funny kind of feeling I guess.  I don't really feel anything, it's something I don't really think about too much.  But yes, when you think in those terms "Hey man, I'm one of the stormtroopers."  But every time I watch STAR WARS they took about 100 shots to shoot anybody.  If they could just fix that little eye problem they had and get them shooting straighter.  I think the whole buzz of STAR WARS is the thing.  It has a whole lot of other things, the tensions of the film, you become this kind of person that's popular which gets you around to certain places, like here, coming to Dallas.  Normally I'd never come here.  I'm now closer to the Dallas Cowboys, and all those cheerleaders, because of the STAR WARS convention.  Because of all these little tangents that have spun from the film.  So I think it's a privilege.  You shouldn't take these things for granted, because they are phenomenons.  There's LORD OF THE RINGS from New Zealand, which we're all pretty proud of.  But when George comes up with something like this last STAR WARS, and the visual candy we can look at today is just quite spectacular.  And the dynamisms of it all that's coming out of this new digital technology is just far beyond what we can imagine.

MARK: Cool man.  We're glad to have you here.

TEMUERA: Yeah bro.  Now let's go and have a beer.
 

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This interview was conducted with permission from Lucasfilm Ltd. 2005


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