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Why Juno Skinner From True Lies Looks So Familiar

Arnold Schwarzenegger has had a long, storied career in both action movies and comedies. For every Terminator, there's a Twins. On a few occasions, he manages to capture both genres perfectly at the same time. Probably the best example of this is James Cameron's 1994 spy thriller True Lies.

True Lies is one of those iconic movies where even the mere mention of its name conjures up images of its most famous scenes — Eliza Dushku dangling on a jet. Jamie Lee Curtis doing a striptease. Bill Paxton peeing himself. And a big part of why all of those moments work as well as they do is because the whole movie is perfectly cast.

Of course, action heroes are nothing without good villains, and True Lies has a few great ones, including "antiques dealer" Juno Skinner (Tia Carrere). Skinner is less a dealer of antiquities and more a smuggler of nuclear warheads for Alim Abu Aziz (Art Malik) and his terrorist group the Crimson Jihad. One of the most iconic scenes in True Lies finds her dancing the tango with Schwarzenegger's Harry Tasker.

Upon revisiting this classic, you might be struck by the feeling that Juno Skinner looks extremely familiar. Much like Schwarzenegger, Tia Carrere has also had a storied career as both action star and comedian. In fact, she's starred in at least one of the most quotable movies of the '90s. Here's where you've likely seen Carrere before.

Tia Carrere is rock goddess Cassandra in Wayne's World

Tia Carrere, like so many actors, spent her early career bouncing from gig to gig. Though she landed a recurring role on the soap opera General Hospital in the mid-'80s, the first big movie that most everyone knows the actress from is 1992's Wayne's World.

Wayne's World is a big-screen adaptation of the popular Saturday Night Live sketch about local cable-access stars Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey). Carrere plays Cassandra, an up-and-coming musician who Wayne is convinced is destined to be a massive rock star. As Wayne and Garth find themselves the unwitting pawns of producer Benjamin Oliver (Rob Lowe), Cassandra faces the choice of either trusting Wayne, a low-rent guy who loves her but whose future is uncertain, or Benjamin, a powerful producer who sees her potential but whose interest in her career may come with ulterior motives.

The affair is played entirely for comedy, with Carrere playing the straight person to Myers' and Carvey's goofy antics. Wayne's World wound up being a massive, heavily quotable hit, spawning a sequel and launching Carrere's career as a film star. It even helped Carrere release her first album, Dream — much like her character Cassandra. Sometimes life imitates art! 

Tia Carrere gets serious in Rising Sun

While Carrere's career was taking off, a certain famous author was having similar success in film — Michael Crichton. Jurassic Park was about to hit the big screen, thus cementing Crichton as one of the most important writers in science fiction decades after his earlier success with Westworld. But Jurassic Park was not the only Crichton novel getting the film treatment in the summer of 1993 — there was another adaptation starring Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes, and Tia Carrere headed to theaters: Rising Sun.

Rising Sun is about the murder of sex worker Cheryl Lynn Austin (Tatjana Patitz) and the deeper crimes behind her death. During the course of the film, former police captain John Connor (Connery) and Detective Web Smith (Snipes) receive a digital tape revealing Austin's killer to be Eddie Sakamura (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). However, it turns out the tape was digitally altered — a twist discovered by expert consultant Jingo Asakuma (Tia Carrere).

Both in the original novel and the film, Asakuma has a deformed hand which causes her to be alienated from her family and the people around her. In an interview with Bobbie Wygant, Carrere said the role was an opportunity for her to step away from playing the pretty girlfriend after Wayne's World and let people know she was capable of more serious roles.

Tia Carrere finds her Disney family in Lilo & Stitch

By the end of the '90s, Carrere had exceled at comedy and she'd crushed it in crime dramas, but if there's one thing that every Disney kid knows Carrere for, it's her role as the voice of Nani in the absolute classic 2002 animated film Lilo & Stitch.

The "Renaissance" era of Disney that comprised The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King was long over by the early 2000s. While the studio was still finding success through its partnership with Pixar, its own animation house was flagging with financially middling entries like Tarzan, Dinosaur, and Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

Enter the comparatively lower-budget, more personal story about found family at the heart of Lilo & Stitch. Lilo (Daveigh Chase) is a lonely Hawaiian girl grieving the death of her parents. Stitch (Chris Sanders) is an alien created through genetic manipulation to be mischievous and destructive. Together they form a bond that makes them both better.

Nani is Lilo's older sister, a young woman struggling to care for a troubled child in the wake of their parents' death. As Nani tries to juggle Lilo's emotional needs with the challenges of holding down a job, there's a real risk that the sisters will be separated from one another. The story of how Nani, Lilo, and Stitch all come together despite their circumstances is incredibly beautiful, and a large part of that comes from Carrere herself — not only did she bring Nani to life, but she also served as a consultant in bringing authenticity to the film's depiction of Hawaiian culture.

Tia Carrere goes full camp in AJ and the Queen

Tia Carrere clearly enjoyed playing the villain in True Lies. Thankfully, she recently had another chance to play a baddie in the 2020 Netflix series AJ and the Queen.

The titular queen is drag queen Ruby Red (RuPaul), who is down on her luck and traveling with her orphan stowaway AJ (Izzy G.) as they move from club to club trying to turn their luck around and find a new home for Ruby's drag show. As you might imagine, there needs to be an antagonist of some kind. Tia Carrere plays an eyepatch-wearing businesswoman with no moral compass named Lady Danger, who's following AJ and Ruby Red around because Ruby owes her money.

AJ and the Queen was co-created by RuPaul and Sex and the City producer Michael Patrick King. Carrere explained that she was excited to take on the role of Lady Danger because of the Sex and the City connection, but also to celebrate and support the LGBTQ community. In an interview with Cheddar, Carrere revealed that her sister and her sister's wife had recently had their first child, and she was excited to be a part of a project that celebrates queer culture.

From comedy to action, from animation to drag queens, Tia Carrere's career hasn't just spanned decades, it's included just about every kind of character under the sun — and that's most certainly why you've seen her face before.