Rena Owen is a New Zealand actress in theatre, television and film. Owen is best known for her leading role as Beth Heke in Lee Tamahori's Once Were Warriors and as Taun We in George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones.
Owen trained at the Actors Institute in London in the mid-1980s and worked extensively in British theatre. Highlights include Voices From Prison for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Co-Existences for the Elephant Theatre and Outside in for Theater New Zealand, which debuted at the Edinburgh Festival. Owen wrote and starred in Te Awa i Tahuti (The River That Ran Away), which had a successful London tour and was later published by NZ Playmarket in 1991.
On her return to New Zealand in 1989, Owen acted in two dramas for Television NZ's E Tipu E Rea series. A first of its kind, the series was written, acted, directed & produced by Maori, telling Maori stories. She worked extensively in theatre; acting, writing, directing, working as a dramaturge, and was a founding member of Taki Rua Theatre. Owen wrote and starred in Daddy's Girl, while also playing reoccurring roles in two TV series; Betty's Bunch & Shark in the Park. Recent theatre credits include starring in the classic NZ play Haruru Mai for the NZ International Arts Festival and The Pohutukawa Tree for ATC. In the USA, she has acted in multiple stage readings for Native Voices at the Autry in LA, and a charity stage reading of Vagina Monologues for the City of West Hollywood. She also played the lead in a Hawaiian play called Fine Dancing, adapted and directed Toa Fraser's play Bare for the Asian American Theatre Company in San Francisco (AATC).
In Once Were Warriors, Owen played the leading role of "Beth Heke" alongside Temuera Morrison, who played her husband. Once Were Warriors is predominantly narrated from Beth's perspective, and her performance was praised as "classic". Owen reprised the role in the film's sequel, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (1999).
Owen played "Taun We" in George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, "Nee Alavar" in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, and a cameo role in Steven Spielberg's A.I while playing a reoccurring role in WB's Angel, Owen played supporting and cameo roles in multiple international independent films. Highlights include the NZ Canadian co-production, Nemesis Game, Garth Maxwell's When Love Comes, Rolf de Heer's acclaimed Dance Me to My Song, Vincent Ward's acclaimed Rain of the Children, and US thrillers Alyce Kills & The Well. She played leading roles in the Australian TV drama series Medivac in 1998, and recently in ABC's The Straits, a multi-ethnic crime family drama. She also appeared in A&E's Longmire.
Recently Owen and Morrison completed work on a documentary celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Once Were Warriors.
Owen acted as "Taun We" in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) (in which Morrison played "Jango Fett") and acted in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) as Nee Alavar. She also worked with the Star Wars Expanded Universe when she reprised her role as "Taun We" in the video game Star Wars: Republic Commando and also an uncredited role as "Jedi Master Tionne Solusar" in the video game Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron.