Interview with Actor Jay Laga’aia

I was excited last week to bring you my first interview here at 3 On The Tree with the wonderful Samantha Reid, but I was even more excited this week when my next guest stopped by to answer a few hard-hitting questions. Not only am I a fan, but I am honoured to call him a mate and a 501st Legion Brother in Arms.

Please let me welcome actor, entertainer and all round nice guy Jay Laga’aia.

Thanks for joining me here today Jay.

When did you decide you were going to be an actor / entertainer?.

I sort of fell into being an entertainer. When you’re young, they call it showing off, but when I left school I realised that I needed to use my skills in order to eat.

What was your first acting job?

It was in a show called Heroes in NZ around 1984.  I was asked by a director, ( who had just finished working on a documentary on the plight of the street kids in South Auckland ), to audition for a part. I went along for a laugh, I played several instruments that they had lying around and then I did some dialogue. I was terrible, but four weeks later they told me I had the part.

Who’s your favourite actor or actress you’ve worked with?

There have been several, Sam Neill, Wilem Defoe, Ewan McGregor, Samuel L Jackson, to name but a few, but I think one of the most influential actors I have ever worked with was Bud Tingwell. We worked together on his last show, ABC’s Bed of Roses. He was the complete actors actor. Always a gentleman and a true professional. His mind was still sharp even though his body was letting him down. I will always cherish the times spent chatting with that crazy ol man!

What was your favourite acting job?

Hands down, working on Starwars! I am a huge fan of the films and to be able to be part of this iconic franchise was a dream come true. The biggest buzz for me was not only having a costume made especially for you or even meeting all your childhood heroes, R2D2, Chewbacca, The Stormtroopers and of course Darth Vader, No, the biggest kick I ever got out of working on this movie was have a toy made of your character. Now that is cool!

Now lots of people will know you know you from your role as Captain Typho in Star Wars episodes 2 and 3. Being you’re a huge Star Wars fan like myself how did it feel to get that phone call about the role and what was it like living out a huge Star Wars fan’s dream by appearing in a Star Wars movie? I know I’d give my left one to be in anything to do with Star Wars even if it was an extra standing in the back of a scene somewhere.

When I went to audition, I originally auditioned for the role of Jango Fett, but they had to also match my on-screen children to me, so obviously I didn’t get the role. I was made sure that I walked slowly past each sound stage so that I could at least visualise what it would have been like to work on the movie and then my agent said they wanted me to come in and read for another role. I went back in and two weeks later, I got a call from my agent saying that I had secured the role of Captain Typho. I was on my own at the time, but I do remember jumping up and down in the kitchen punching the air and then when my wife came home I told her the good news and said, That’s nice! Typical teacher! No idea on what this truly meant. I also wondered if I had to pay them because I would have gladly forked over money! Ha!

You have been on play school for as long as I can remember how hard it is to do a children’s show with without actually having any children in front of you.

For me it’s pretty easy. My children are always with me in my mind and so when I talk to the camera, I am always communicated with one of my rug rats. I can be daunting at times but I have worked on Playschool now for the past 12 years and I hope to continue to do so for many years to come.

You have been touring with your own live show called Jay’s Place, how hard is it doing a live compared to tv like play school.

Live shows are always hard because you are constantly engaging your audience. Live children’s shows are even harder because kids don’t have to take your feelings into account! They will walk away from you mid sentence and not care! That is why you must always be very aware that the material that you are performing and always make sure it is relevant  to your young audience.

Now since you have what seems like a dozen kids what is the best advice you could give a first time father.

Always be part of your child’s life. Meaning don’t be afraid to carry them. Don’t let your mother in law boss you around. Remember that common sense will normally answer any question you have at 3 o’clock in the morning. Give your wife a break and remember it’s not about  you any more. Your wife loves you but she has someone now who also needs her too. Don’t become another baby for her to look after. Your meals and coffees will always be drunk and eaten luke warm!

I could sit here and ask you questions and talk about Starwars all day long with you but since Three on The Tree is a car blog I better start asking some car questions.

What was your first car?

A 1944 Ford Jailbar ute. short block V8

Whats car do you have drive now?

I drive a 2001 Mitsubishi Pajero. 7 seater

The funniest thing you had happen in a car?

I kept putting off checking the oil in my car until finally I was driving to Palm Beach to film Home and Away and I blew the motor up! I tried to keep driving but I was covering the cars behind me in white smoke. Not good!

Your biggest peeve on the road.?

P platers. People who pull into a lane and then slow down. Sydney traffic system. Stop go attendants! People who don’t indicate!

And finally if you were a car what sort of car would you be and why?

I would probably be either Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, because just the name alone sound Polynesian and enjoyable or I would be Luke Skywalkers land speeder. Old but reliable.

Thanks for joining me here today Jay its been an extreme pleasure for you join us here at 3 on The Tree.

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