However Mercedes had a different life in Los Angeles when she was working as an actor, singer and dancer and it was there that she met KG’s Deborah Shaw in 1998. She had just completed filming in 1997 the role of Rystáll Sant in the digitally remastered Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi (the original was released in 1983).
KG: Did you audition for the role of Rystáll? If so, what was the audition process like?
MN-S: Yes, I was in my first year of university and was also modelling part-time. It was my modelling agency that got the call for exotic looking women minimum 5’9 who could dance for a role in an undisclosed film. When I arrived to the address there was a long queue of girls there to audition and I spotted giant storm trooper in corner of the front lobby and that’s when I realised we were at Lucasfilm.
They brought us into the room in groups of three at a time and had us do a short routine that a choreographer taught us and we had 5 minutes to learn. The funny thing there was such a long queue when I arrived myself and two friends I had come with actually left to run to another audition that was going on at the same time. We figured it would take at least an hour to get through the queue and thought we could just come back. When we came back though they told us the audition was over and we were all shocked as we thought we could make it back in time. The receptionist though who we spoke to originally remembered us and felt bad so went to the casting director and asked her if she would take one more group as we were there earlier. She said ok and let us come audition. The funny thing was that in the end, I was the only one chosen for the role out of all of the girls that auditioned as the choreographer decided to bring in some dancers from his dance troupe for the roles.
KG: Was there a rehearsal period? Especially as your costume could not have been easy to dance in!
MN-S: Yes there were days of rehearsal without the costume and then just one dress rehearsal. Actually, because my outfit was a ‘catsuit’ of sorts and really light and stretchy, it was pretty easy to move in. The hoof feet though took a second to get used to! Actually I was meant to be wearing the black leather strappy outfit that the character Lyn-Mae wore but they switched it last minute which I was very happy about!
KG: When did you first meet George Lucas?
MN-S: He was there on the set at all times and really chatty
KG: I understand that George created backstories for everyone’s roles? Did he create one for Rystáll?
MN-S: I’m sure he did create a backstory but you know the fans would probably know more about her backstory than me! I do remember George and I actually came up with my character’s name together. I asked him what my/her name was going to be and he said he hadn’t thought of if yet but then went on to give me an example about how he names characters. He said for example he would take a name like Crystal and then play around with it by dropping the first letter and adding an extra letter at the end so Crystal would become Rystáll. I loved the name right away and asked him if he could use that for my character’s name and he said yes he’ll name her Rystáll.
KG: What was Rystáll’s relationship with Boba Fett?
MN-S: I think they just had a flirtation but apparently there were rumours they were ex-lovers… haha. To be honest that whole scene was completely impromptu and we were just goofing around it ended up in the film and became a huge talking point for the fans.
KG: Where did you shoot the scenes of you singing and dancing in Jabba the Hutt’s Palace? And how long was your shoot?
MN-S: At Lucas Film and we shot for 2 days. They brought back all the original set out of the archives and recreated it, it was amazing.
KG: How long did it take to get you made up and into your costume?
MN-S: Four hours exactly. I remember because I had a 4am set call and was done exactly when we were due to start filming at 8am.
KG: Where you allowed to keep anything from your costume or the set?
MN-S: No they keep everything and archive it all so I just came away with a few sneaky behind the scene pictures!
KS: Did you meet any of the main stars of the film? If so, what was your interaction like?
MN-S: No not really, just the original dancer was brought back to film some more scenes and that was amazing that 20 years later she has barely aged and looked amazing!
KG: We know you have been to Sci-Fi conventions around the world – any fun tales to tell?
MN-S: Oh gosh they have all been so fun but my times in Japan were probably the most memorable as I did so many conventions there and it’s such an amazing country with the most die-hard fans. One time my mother came along for a trip with me and they were asking for her autograph as well - it was hilarious!
KG: If George Lucas was to call you today and say he wanted you in the next film, would you do it?
MN-S: Of course, it was a great experience and something I will have fun sharing with my babies when they are a bit older!