Rystáll (Return of the Jedi)
You’ve got an exotic name: Mercedes sounds Hispanic and Ngoh must be African. Can you tell us something about the origins of your name?
My mother is from Spain (Mercedes) and my father is from Cameroon, West Africa (Ngoh).
Your two colleague dancers in Return of the Jedi; Dalyn Chew and Celia Fushille-Burke, were from Smuin Ballets in San Francisco and got cast as dancers. How did you get cast for Return of the Jedi?
I auditioned for the role of Rystáll through my then modeling/acting agency and later that afternoon they called me back for a callback with the choreographer. After that they waited to approve everything with George and I was told I got booked the job a couple of days later.
Was it difficult performing in Rystáll’s large feet? They weren’t exactly dancing shoes, were they?
They were tough to dance in at first, I kept tripping over myself but then as they day went on I got used to them. They were really big!
What was the amount of time it took getting suited up in costume and makeup?
Four hours, not a minute less.
How long did it take to learn the routine and lip-synching for the scene?
After we were taught the routine, I practiced on my own to the music in my living room quite a bit because I wanted it to be as spot on as possible but all together as a group we rehearsed I think a day or two.
How long did it take to film your scene?
Just the filming part? It took one day, one very long day.
In Return of the Jedi these additional scenes were created fourteen years after the movie was originally filmed. Did you see the “original” film back in 1983? And, was it weird seeing yourself added to these additional scenes?
I did see it back when I was little though I don’t remember it at the time because I was quite young. Yes, of course, it’s still weird seeing myself inserted into such an epic and classic film no matter how many times I watch it.
Some fans love the Special Editions, others hate it. The Jabba’s Palace dance scene has been one of the most discussed modifications. What would you tell people who hate the new scene? And do you think the movie has become better by modifying that scene?
Well I’d say that a filmmaker has the right to make a film be however he intended it to be. Whether it is done at the time it is being filmed or somewhere down the line when the funds and means are available to make it just the way he envisioned. It was a harmless, fun little addition anyway no? Besides, that’s life. Nothing stay the same forever.
You’ve done conventions and have met loads of fans. Which convention or city has given you the best memories regarding the fans you’ve met?
They have all been great!
At these conventions, you have signed items like photos and posters. What would be the craziest item you have ever signed?
I can’t remember the craziest item I ever signed but I can tell you the creepiest item I DIDN’T sign. It was a color drawing of my character, Rystall, naked, having very graphic sex with Lando Calrissian!! I wasn’t quit sure what to say. On the one hand I wanted to compliment his tremendous artistic talents but on the other hand I had to question his taste in subject matter. There was just no way I could sign it. It was a little too creepy!
The upcoming Star Wars TV-series takes place before Return of the Jedi. Suppose George Lucas would call you. Would you be interested in playing the role of Rystáll again?
You’re a musician, but you’re mostly known for your role in Star Wars. Does that bother you? Wouldn’t you like it to be the other way: being recognized everywhere because of your music?
It doesn’t bother me because it’s all part of my journey as an artist and I don’t need to compartmentalize one aspect from another. Singing, dancing, acting, sports, it’s what I’ve done my whole life and they all blend together for me. Remember my role as Rystall was a singer and dancer so it’s not too far off from reality. I’m in London right now working on some more music and when and if the time is right, I will be recognized for that as well. But I don’t begrudge being known as Rystall. It’s been nothing but a wonderful experience for me.
Do you have any plans to act again in the future? Or do you focus 100% on music these days?
These days it’s just music. I’m having a blast here in London and I’m hoping for a fall release of the latest stuff I’m working on over here. I hope all my Star Wars fans will support me when the project comes out. I’ll let everyone know once it’s ready.
Do you have anything you’d like to add that we may have missed regarding your Return of the Jedi filming and/or your “personal” life?
Personal life stays personal for me so there’s a lot you’ve missed actually!! Ha, ha.
What did you think of having your own action figure made from your character? Were you disappointed that it wasn’t released by itself, but was part of a three pack of all three dancers?
Having an action figure is really such a special and unique thing not many can lay claim to. It would be in quite bad form to complain about such a trivial thing no?