Zachariah Jensen (Kit Fisto)

Zachariah Jensen
Kit Fisto (Attack of the Clones)
Interview: September 2010

How did you get started in the movie business?

My brother Jesse had been working in the film and TV industry based in Sydney for the previous few years. I had been travelling a lot and doing some work in the building industry and decided to head down to Sydney from my home town on the Sunshine Coast to see if I could get myself a job in the movie business. Jesse had a few inside contacts and thanks to him, a couple of weeks after I arrived I managed to get a job on Star Wars as a set carpenter. As I was new to the trade, I was mainly setting up the workshops for the various departments. This gave me a great opportunity to meet the heads of many departments and it was very exciting to get a first glimpse of what goes on in the world of big budget films.

You portrayed the Jedi Master Kit Fisto in Episode II. How did you get this specific part? I understood your dreadlocks had something to do with it?

Not sure if that’s true or not. After spending a couple of weeks setting up their workshop I had become pretty friendly with the creature shop crew, Matt Sloan in particular. Matt ended up playing Plo Kloon. I think Matt was instrumental in my being offered to play Saesee Tiin, which I was very excited about. One day not long after that, I arrived at work and my boss told me that I had a meeting with George Lucas later that day. I wondered whether I had messed up big time without realizing it! Anyway I met with George and Rick McCallum was there also. George offered me the part of Kit Fisto who was still being developed and had originally been concept sketched as a Sith Lord. Of course I took George up on his offer….who wouldn’t? As Saesee Tiin and Kit Fisto had scenes together, someone else was needed to play Saesee Tiin. I offered up Jesse who was also working as a set carpenter at the time, he got the part and we ended up having on screen fight scenes together as Jedi Masters. Good times.

What do you recall of the shooting of the big arena fight scene?

One of the larger studios was decked out with green screens almost all the way round and sand coating the entire floor. We had sound tracks playing and there was lots of ‘being a Jedi in the back yard as a kid’ but with awesome costumes and lots of cameras. Jesse has had some Aikido training and he gave me some tips and moves to use. There were individual sessions where George had some specific directions as well as group scenes and lots of improvising. It was a long and tiring day but very fun!

What was it like, wearing all these layers of make-up and prosthetics? I can imagine it wasn’t very comfortable!

You know, if I had to wear it all the time I’m sure I would find it uncomfortable. It was 4,5 hours altogether for the make-up and wardrobe every morning for me. But as I was brand new to the film industry and being dressed up to play a Jedi with the likes of Samuel Jackson and co. alongside my brother…….. we were loving every minute and all the prosthetics was just part of the fun! It was an interesting process as the prosthetics was glued carefully to the skin and airbrushed in where it met my true face. And when it was finished if I made a facial expression it would be Kit Fisto making an expression!

What do you think of the character Kit Fisto? Your brother Jesse told me he thinks Kit is cooler than his character Saesee Tiin. Don’t tell me you think Saesee is cooler!

I have to admit, although Jesse himself is the coolest person I know, Kit Fisto is definitely one of my favourite characters from the Star Wars saga.

Did any strange, funny or remarkable things happen during the making of Episode II?

The whole experience was strange, funny and remarkable! One thing that was pretty amazing to me personally was watching the development of Kit Fisto. As I was working behind the scenes as well, I saw the sculptor shaping the face over a plaster mould of my head and George would come and make his own adjustments each day. I had to shave off my dreadlocks to have my head and shoulders moulded so when I had the tentacles on it felt kind of normal again.

Did you meet the main actors from Episode II? Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson? Did you have a chat with them? How were they on the set?

I did have the chance to meet all of those actors and found them all to be very professional and very friendly both socially and at work. When I first got the part of Kit Fisto I approached Samuel and told him of my fortunate casting as Kit and asked him for some advice. He was very cool and basically told me to relax and have fun with it. As it turned out, he was with me in most of my scenes and we really did have a great time, his advice was both simple and perfect.

I know from Jesse that the two of you were Star Wars fans as a kid. How did you feel when you got wore your Jedi robes and Kit Fisto make-up for the first time and walked on the set?

As you can imagine, it was quite a buzz!

In Revenge of the Sith the part of Kit Fisto was played by Ben Cooke. Why didn’t you return to play Kit again? And what do you think of the way Kit gets killed by Palpatine?

Jesse and I were both in Panama working on Survivor Season 8 ‘Exile Island’ at the time and unfortunately missed out on Episode III. Yes, Kit and Saesee both get killed a little quickly in my opinion. Although I have heard speculation that Kit Fisto didn’t actually die!

You have done various Star Wars conventions where you signed photos for the fans. What is the best thing that happened to you at a convention?

The whole experience of meeting with fans, hearing their enthusiastic feedback, answering their questions and being able to interact with them directly is a rare treat and I enjoy them very much when I get the opportunity to go.

What are you currently up to? Do you have new projects?

I am working as the Art Director on the reality TV show Survivor. We are currently filming season 22.

Please finish the following sentence: “Looking back at the fact that I was in Star Wars, I….”

am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this incredibly imaginative world.