Date: 23rd September 2003

Girl, 13, cast as Star Wars 'royal'

A 13-year-old New Zealand actress has been cast as a "regal leader" in the latest Star Wars movie.

Aucklander Keisha Castle-Hughes, who won rave reviews for her acting debut in Whale Rider, is thought to be playing the Queen of Naboo.

Keisha's agent, Graham Dunster, has refused to discuss Star Wars Episode 3, which will be released in 2005, but says most of the filming has been completed.

Earlier this year Castle-Hughes stated she had no ambition to make a career in Hollywood.

"My ambition is to be a teacher and being in the movies hasn't changed that. The movie world is too unreal. The people seem on another planet, not aware of the real world," she said.

She added: "It's great to be part of it for a while but if I spent too much time doing movies I think I'd forget what reality was."

A student at Penrose High School, she was among 10,000 teens who auditioned for Whale Rider.

She said yes to questions of whether she was Maori, could ride a bike, and swim. A double later had to be found for the swimming scenes.

Source: Press Release