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Hero image for Rena Owen: Being Beth Heke...

Rena Owen: Being Beth Heke...

Interview – 2008

Actor Rena Owen found fame through her role as matriarch Beth Heke in hard-hitting feature film Once Were Warriors. She went on to spend two decades years in Los Angeles, though she returned to New Zealand to act in Vincent Ward's Rain of the Children and Fiona Samuel's TV movie Piece of My Heart.

In this ScreenTalk, Owen talks about:

  • Her beginnings in theatre as an actor and playwright
  • Getting her television break on landmark Māori drama series E Tipu e Rea
  • How Don Selwyn was a mentor to many Māori in the screen industry
  • Heading to Easter Island for her first movie role: Rapa Nui 
  • Her career-defining role as Beth Heke in Once Were Warriors
  • How she met Warriors author Alan Duff long before making the film — and Duff saying she'd make a great Beth
  • Not coping well with the public attention the film's success brought
  • Enjoying working on Vincent Ward's Rain of the Children
  • The heartbreaking subject matter of Fiona Samuel's Piece of My Heart
  • Her plans to develop a movie based on Pat Baker novel Behind the Tattooed Face
This video was first uploaded on 18 December 2008, and is available under this Creative Commons licence. This licence is limited to use of ScreenTalk interview footage only and does not apply to any video content and photographs from films, television, music videos, web series and commercials used in the interview.
Interview - Clare O'Leary. Camera and Editing - Leo Guerchmann