Day 421 – Sara Elizabeth Joyce

Sara Elizabeth Joyce played an unidentified bounty hunter in Attack of the Clones.

Over the last twenty-plus years, Sara Elizabeth Joyce has worked in the film industry in a variety of roles including directing, writing, construction, and visual effects to just name a few. In Attack of the Clones, Joyce worked in front of the camera appearing in Dex’s Diner as a bounty hunter.

Joyce answered a few questions via email for this interview. Note: Joyce recently contacted me to let me know my guess that she was Day 399 focus Lowle Ch’red in Dex’s Diner was incorrect. The search continues for that actress!

What was your introduction to Star Wars?

I watched Star Wars religiously as a child of the 1970’s. In fact I was born the year Star Wars came out. I only really remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back at cinema which I believe was the first film I can recall seeing on the big screen. It would have been around 1981 when I was four as it usually took a year back then for us to get films from the States.

I remember seeing the battle of Endor as a kid on the big screen and that was mind-blowing. We also then had the Ewok movies in cinema in Australia after that. I had accumulated a lot of Star Wars toys, even had the famous Star Wars wallpaper as a child and was a true fan in every sense. I remember thinking to myself I was going to live in that universe one day and it was a childhood dream come true.

Do you have any favorite Star Wars characters? If so why are they your favorites?

I guess you could say that I was a big fan of Wedge Antilles, Denis Lawson’s character. I was also a huge fan of the Ion Control Gunner from The Empire Strikes Back, one of the few women who appeared in the early movies. (Note: That’s Toryn Farr from Day 40). I’m also a fan of Mara Jade and of the young women in Tales of the Jedi… Really love to see something with the Krath. 

Tell me about the beginning of your career (IMDB lists your first credit as 2000) and how that led to your role in Attack of the Clones?

I’ve been working in the industry since I was pretty young until I went and studied Acting at NIDA and the Journey at the Actor’s Center. I worked on so many films and projects before the year 2000 and most of those projects have been lost in time. I even came in to help the director of the second big Star Wars fan film ever made at the time which was shot over 7-9 months at the Foxtel TV studios and called The Dark Redemption before we collectively got jobs on Episode 2. In The Dark Redemption we had the pleasure of working with the late Peter Sumner who reprised his role as Lt. Pol Treidum who says: “TK-421, why aren’t you at your post?…”

I came in as a featured extra on Attack of the Clones and made the final cut with the scene in Dex’s Diner.

What kind of information (if any) were you given about your character and the scene you were in? Was your character ever given a name on set?

I was given a blaster and five-layered costume and was told I was a bounty hunter on Coruscant. I never got the memo though that we could make up our own names which many people did and now have become part of the EU of Star Wars. Therefore I was credited as Dex’s Diner Bounty Hunter. 

When we went to the costume department at Fox Studios Sydney to get fitted for our costumes, it was pretty exciting. Back then Fox Studios was only a few years old. I knew they had shot Dark City there and The Matrix and it was a movie magical wonderland. I had also auditioned for Queen of the Damned there and any excuse I could make up to get into the studios I would use.

How long were you on set for your role on Attack of the Clones?

I worked on the film for three days. I did a couple of days as an extra in a Jedi robe and never made cut and my last day was as a Bounty Hunter in Dex’s Diner.

Joyce is the bounty hunter sitting at the counter second from the right in this screenshot from Attack of the Clones.
Can you share any memories about shooting the scenes in Dex’s Diner?

We came in at our usual time 6am – I got there a little earlier as I was so excited. I think I left Fox Studios at about 8pm that day. We eventually got down to Studio 2 where the Dex’s Diner scene was from memory, with a massive blue or green screen (I don’t recall) surrounding the diner. Lots of crew around and technical gear.

There were four of these big cameras on set and we started getting arranged. There were six of us who were kept on set as featured people. There was fake food one the counter that we were told was going to have force fields around it so we couldn’t steal it, there was a cut away of me trying to steal the food as I recall getting zapped by the force field, Susie Porter (Hermione Bagwa) and Ronald Falk (Dex) rocked up to set and we were chatting away, Claudia Karvan came up to say Hi to Susie and little did I know she was playing Padme’s sister (Sola Naberrie) which also didn’t make the cut.

George and Rick had these big monitors outside the diner where they watched everything from. You couldn’t really see it but the place was dirtied up with dirt spray and mist and the people in full alien costumes had to have breathing fans stuck in their giant alien mouths.

It seemed like a long day. We broke for lunch and when I came off set the props guy had to grab my blaster and as Susie and I left the set there were media everywhere. It was my first taste of what it was like being a star and it was not pretty, how they were allowed on set while we were all so exhausted as the flashes went off and Susie was being asked about her character and to sign autographs. I thought it was a bit out of place just coming off the set. Then I saw Rick trying to convince George that this was a necessary thing for the promotion. I only ever saw a picture of us walking down to the food tent which my head chopped off in the picture in full costume. 

My costume was pretty cool albeit very hot. I had blaster holes in the chest packs and was wearing black underneath. I met another famous Australian who was on set with us that day, Dylan Lewis from a popular Saturday morning TV show called Recovery. He’s the one who wears the big helmet behind Obi-Wan in our scene. I also met Hayden’s body double and had lunch with the two. Ahmed Best was there too. He was pretty cool and came up and chatted with us for a bit. Pretty sure I challenged Frank Oz to a Yoda voice competition too where he won but I can’t recall for sure if it was him. 

Joyce (far right) on the set of Attack of the Clones with Ronald Falk, Susie Porter, and George Lucas. Screenshot from the “Puppets to Pixels” documentary.

After lunch we were back on set. George was showing everybody what the pictures of Dex would look like and having a bit of a laugh. I liked him, he seemed like a nice dude. In the morning we had been told to say whatever lines popped into our heads, all that came out first was “Ughghghghgh” and then I changed it to “Can I have one of those” remembering Luke’s line from Episode 4. There’s a part where I get up to leave the diner and we shot it from several different angles. George told me that I didn’t like Jedi very much and I was leaving because of one.

Most of all I got to talk with Susie Porter all day about movies and that was the best part for me. I know that she had played a lesbian detective or some such recently in a movie and that all I wanted to hear about. Being on Star Wars was a close second, or at least that’s the vibe I was giving off. Secretly I was in fan heaven. 

Later that night they asked if anyone would be willing to play another featured character with lines etc and I totally put my hand up for that. So did the girl who I am mistaken for in the scene. We were both cast aside for someone else but I was told that only a girl could play the character. Being a closet Trans Woman at the time who only dressed as myself at a few parties, this gutted me. 

The walk back to the recording studio where I was living at the time was a sad and lonely one.

You mentioned to me that the character I misidentified you as in a few articles also had a line of dialogue filmed. Any chance you remember that line? Or other lines that didn’t make the final cut?

I don’t recall what the other actors said but as I said we were all asked to make up our own lines. I did get to talk to that girl who was in the scene I’m misidentified as. She was lovely and cute and friendly as I recall.

Do you consider yourself a Star Wars fan? Have you watched the current Disney movies or any of the recent animated TV shows?

I do again now ever since Rogue One. I was so happy to see a lead female protagonist in that role. As well as in Ep 7 but I liked Rogue One so much better.

You have worked in a variety of roles in films over the years. What are some highlights and do you favor one role (director, writer, etc.) over the others?

I worked on a lot of independent projects but in recent years have had the opportunity to work on some phenomenal Sci-fi as a woman in construction. I worked on a little sci-fi series called Airlock which you can watch on Ozflix. I helped make 75 Scorpion soldier helmets for Gods of Egypt.

I worked on Pacific Rim 2 and while the producer and director were pretty much screwing over the crew for overtime I actually had a good time on that film working with a lot of other carpenters, many of whom were very talented women, who incidentally could also drink me under the table. This sparked a bit of a rebellion of its own in the Australian Film Industry and over a hundred screen professionals came forward to hammer out an agreement with the top six Hollywood studios for films over 15 million where they have to meet certain conditions. I was very proud that one of those conditions I won was getting our Australian construction crew catered for on-site as everyone else was getting catered for but construction. Kind hard to travel three hours on a ferry and get food for lunch and be back on time when you’re on an island.  

What projects are you working on now?

I’ve been working hard on some scripts for TV Web Series and new features all sci-fi based and have been shooting where I can while working in government and running for the Senate as a candidate. There’s a labor of love I’ve been working on for many years as a novel and hopefully a series called Machete Girl and a feature I’m working on based in a matriarchal society with space battles and deception and drama and all that good stuff here which I’m hoping will be picked up by either Amazon or Netflix.

You can see all of the 365 Days of Star Wars Women posts here.

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