We’re a day away from the mid-season finale of Siren. The Freeform show currently in its second season, tells the story of land and sea coming together. Rena Owen plays Helen, who has an interesting connection with the Sirens. She owns a mermaid-themed shop, and (Spoiler Alert) she used to be a Siren herself! Helen has has quite the transformation this season, and will have more when the season returns for the rest of its second season. YEM spoke with Rena Owen about being a part of Siren ahead of tomorrow’s mid-season finale.
Young Entertainment Mag: The Siren winter finale airs tomorrow. How has Helen changed during the season so far?
Rena Owen: The changes that Helen has gone through really have been based on what’s gone down in her life. Which first and foremost at the beginning of the season, new merpeople came into her world. So there’s a lot of changes there because she had to do a whole lot of mermaid wrangling and take care of them and help them to fit into the world. And one of those new merpeople includes a merman. So there’s a new merman in Helen’s life as the viewers have seen. And the other big change in her life is that she finds out that she’s related! So that has certainly been a big change for Helen.
YEM: Will we see more of Helen with her family member? Will we meet more of her family?
Rena: As we’ve seen on the show, yes Rick [Helen’s cousin] does have a sister. So maybe Helen gets to meet her. Maybe Helen gets to meet new merpeople. But I can neither confirm nor deny.
YEM: What do you love about playing Helen?
Rena: Well she’s just a very original character: I call her an OG! She’s original, she’s eccentric, she’s mysterious. She’s multidimensional and she’s has this secret, she’s got mermaid blood- she’s a very unique character. I’ve never played anybody like Helen Hawkins before. And I love all the dimensions she has with all the other characters.
YEM: How are you different from Helen? How are you similar to her?
Rena: Well I’m not a mermaid. I don’t own a shop. And I kind of haven’t lived my life hiding such a major secret about who she is. Those are the biggest differences. As for similarities, I’ve always felt different and I am different. I’m also very original and Helen’s very original. She’s diverse, she’s slightly eccentric and I’m those kind of things. I think most creative people grow up feeling very different. Or we feel like we don’t fit in or we don’t belong. So those are things that I feel that I grew up with. So I have those in common with Helen.
YEM: We found out halfway through the first season that Helen has Siren blood. How early on did you find out about Helen’s secret?
Rena: I knew it just from reading the first episode. I’ve been acting for 30 years so I have good instincts when it comes to scripts and insights into characters. I knew it when I first read the script because of the instant mer-recognition that Helen has with Ryn. The nature of her job, and that shop full of mermaid memorabilia. And the whole exchange she had with Ben and his ancestry. So I knew that and I went into the audition with that backstory. Then when I was cast, I confirmed it with our creators. I said “she’s got something going on with merpeople” but we didn’t find out how much until midway through the first season.
YEM: There is a male Siren that has quite a lot of chemistry with Helen. Will we see more scenes of them together?
Rena: Yes, there will be more scenes between the two of them, and of course there will be more scenes with the trio of Ryn, Ben and Maddie. And more scenes with the rest of the merpeople. There will be more scenes with all the characters.
YEM: What can fans expect for the rest of the season?
Rena: There’s still a lot more stuff that’s going to happen with Helen and the good thing is that the audience will be discovering everything about Helen as she’s discovering it. There’s some great stuff coming up. You have a lot to look forward too. The first 8 episodes will end with a cliffhanger and the rest of the season will end with an even bigger cliffhanger.
YEM: You played Taun We in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. What was it like to be a part of the Star Wars universe?
Rena: It was amazing. What helped me was I wasn’t overwhelmed by it because I didn’t grow up in that world. And George really appreciated that because I treated it like I treat all my jobs. I really had no concept until the film came out and I realized “Oh this is kind of a big deal!” So I had a lot of fun.
I hung out a lot with George’s children on set and I think he really liked that about me and how I treated them ordinary. I often found that people that do extraordinary things like to be treated ordinary rather than having people bow down to them. It was fun, it was great. It really wasn’t until I went to a convention that I realized “Oh My God” this isn’t just a film, it’s a religion. I was very privileged to be a part of that world and I got to work with George Lucas twice. Afterwards I went on to work with Steven Spielberg, which made me the only actress in the world to have worked with both. Pretty cool.
YEM: What was it like to be the only actress to work with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg?
Rena: Well I didn’t know that at the time. I just wanted to do a good job and do good work. It wasn’t until I was at a convention that a Star Wars fan told me. I said, “I had no idea!” I knew they were big directors, but you can’t be overwhelmed by that because you have to do a good job. Thanks to Star Wars fans, I found out many years later. It’s very cool, and playing Helen is also very cool.