Although model Shannon McRandle wasn't in the Star Wars movies, she did portray a Star Wars character. She posed as Mara Jade, (the popular Expanded Universe character that was introduced in Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy) for Decipher's popular Star Wars card game. The following interview with Shannon is an exclusive one. It premieres in english on this website after originally being published in Dutch for a Dutch Star Wars website.
Can you tell us how you got the job to pose as Mara Jade being a model? Who approached you and why did they specifically wanted you?
Decipher Games came up with the idea in 1999. They got approval from George Lucas to put Mara in a Star Wars card game. They were doing a casting call which, is standard for finding a specific person to rep a product in a shoot, and put together a storyboard of what Mara has looked like over the years, and what they were looking for. I had a contact who let me know about the casting and I got in before anyone else. I looked a great deal like the person on the storyboard. It also helped that I lived in the same city, Norfolk, VA. They sent photos of me to Lucas who gave them the final approval.
When was your first encounter with the Star Wars phenomena and what were your initial thoughts about Star Wars then?
If you mean after I got the job, it was the Deciphercon that year. It was full of people who knew very well who Mara was. They were very accepting, but that may have also been because Decipher gave me a great card...it kicked butt in the game.
There is a Star Wars Television series in the works that takes place between Episode III and IV. This would be a perfect setting for Mara Jade. Have you been asked for the series? And would you be willing to take on the role of Mara?
I would love to do anything Mara. I've been told that Mara was never meant to be on film in anyway, and that the series would be about characters that were not developed yet. I don't have any regular contact with Lucas. If the role is an extensive one, I am only a model with a bit of acting work in commercials, I wouldn't be the best person, but if it were small, I would love to audition for it. It may also be a factor as to how old they would portray her if they do decide to use her. As you well know, Mark cannot play himself. I am nearly 40 and cannot pass for mid twenties very often....We'd have to be those characters in very small glimpses, very fuzzy ones, we'll see where they go with it all.
Has George Lucas ever considered you for a part (not necessarily as Mara Jade) in Episode II or III?
I've never met him.
There are busts, action figures and other merchandise items of Mara Jade. Did you expect this at the time you were asked to pose as Mara?
Not at all, I was hired to do a series of cards for a game.
Mara Jade has become a fan favorite, even though she wasn't featured in a Star Wars movie. Her fame comes from the so called Expanded Universe books and comics. Do you keep up with them and the stories that are told about Mara?
I’ve read Tim's first three novels. I used to keep up with what was happening because I did cons regularly and it was fun to interact with fans in that way. Now I have three children and a husband who is an officer at a seal team. I have so much responsibility at home. I very rarely do cons anymore. I do not keep up with things as I used to. I know the basics and that's about it.
In the Expanded Universe your character eventually marries Luke Skywalker. Have you ever met the actor that portrayed him: Mark Hamill? And if you did, did you discuss this?
I first met Mark in New Jersey at a con. He was very kind and full of great stories about his work. The meeting was brief, but he knew the storyline and that someone had been cast for the likeness. I met him once again a couple years ago at the San Diego ComicCon. He was much busier then, and I didn't get to talk to him at all, just a couple hellos. He seems like a great guy. He's done so much more than people give him credit for.
You have done conventions with Amy Allen and Michonne Bourriague and three of you seem to get along just fine. Is this really the case? Do you have a lot of fun at conventions?
Amy and Mich are my two favorite people I've ever met doing this....and I've had the privilege to meet a great many. We always have a great time regardless of where we are or what we are doing...we keep in touch to this day.
In the USA you have attended some conventions, like Celebration III; the biggest Star Wars event ever. How was it to meet so many fans? And is there any possibility we will ever see you attend a convention in the Netherlands or Europe?
I've done Celebration 2 and Celebration 3. The crowds were more overwhelming to me at Celebration 2, but they also had less of the big guys there, so all of us little people were able to do more and meet more fans. It was really fantastic. I have also done cons in Japan, Australia, Germany, France, and Mexico. I was in Paris two years ago for a con. I've never been invited to the Netherlands....that's how it works, you have to be invited by a con, but I would love to go if I were. Here in the states, I've been to New Jersey, D.C., Maryland, Nebraska, Texas, California, Nevada, NC, Florida and Georgia off the top of my head, maybe a few others.
At conventions you sign a lot. What is the strangest item you have ever signed?
Nothing really strange, but people bring everything Mara in to be signed...lightsabers, clothing, comics, dolls......lots of people have made up there own stuff...especially in Japan.
Regarding meeting fans: the nicest thing a fan has ever done for you would be?
Most of the fans are nice. I've gotten flowers, been invited to parties and dinners, gotten t-shirts and letters and pictures. People are very thoughtful!
What are you currently doing regarding new projects? Will it mainly be modeling, have you got ambitions regarding acting or will it be something else?
I still model every so often. Like I said, I have three kids and I'm getting much older. I am very picky about work. If it's not something fun and profitable, I cannot take the time away from my kids. They are my projects now. My little girl is eight and is very busy studying dance. My boys are three and one, so we have tons to do all day long everyday. And my husband is so rarely home, that when he is, I like to be with him rather than running off to work. I've also been a make up artist for a number of years. When I get the itch to work a little here and there at something outside of children and the house, I do that. I should have a website up soon. I've done make-up for fashion shoots, runway shows, commercials, video, weddings, proms, lessons, etc....for the last decade. It's enjoyable and the jobs are never more than a couple hours here and there.
Thank you for this interview!
Thank you so much for thinking of me. May the force be with you!