Natalie Portman’s role in Star Wars is considered iconic, even though many try to forget the prequel series even exists. Her Queen Amidala make-up was legendary, and her role as the mother of Luke and Leia Skywalker was one of grave importance.
How old was Natalie Portman in Star Wars?
When Natalie Portman made Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, she was just 16 years old.
The film was one of her first big-budget films, and the movie was released in 1999, which was her final year of high school.
Natalie could not attend the film’s premiere, as she was studying for final exams at high school, which put her in good stead to attend Harvard University, though she worked on the remaining two Star Wars prequel films during this time.
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Natalie Portman – how old was she in Star Wars?
Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala
Speaking of her time in the role to CNN in 1999, Natalie said: “George [Lucas] worked with me a lot on changing my voice and my movement and the way I carried myself.
“We worked on this accent that … kinda goes to old, older generations of actresses who used kind of an unidentifiable accent. ‘Is it American or is it British?’
“I watched Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn. If you look at them, their voices and the stature is so regal, even in their everyday characters.
“And that’s kinda why I used it to model after.
“I was very honoured and excited to be presented with such a great opportunity but I really wasn’t aware of how big a deal Star Wars was … and when I saw the films, I really liked them, but I still didn’t really understand how many… were passionate fans of this film.”
Natalie Portman as Padme in Revenge of the Sith
While for many, this is the film which helped Natalie’s name get out there, it was by no means her first film, or even her first performance.
Natalie became a child model at 10 years old, after being spotted by an agent, but turned down the offer, using it as a stepping stone to get an acting agent.
She, along with Britney Spears, was cast as an understudy for the 1992 off-Broadway musical Ruthless!, which starred Laura Bell Bundy.
While this was an important move, her first film role came in 1994 film Léon: The Professional, from director Luc Besson.
Natalie Portman in Leon the Professional
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She played an orphan who befriends a hitman, and at first the script included killings and nudity which were committed by her character, Mathilda.
Her parents were concerned by these moments, and so Luc removed them from the script, and Natalie did the part.
Some criticised Luc’s characterisation of Mathilda for sexualising the young girl, and years later, in 2007, Natalie addressed this herself.
She said: “There’s a surprising preponderance of that kind of role for young girls.
“Sort of being fantasy objects for men, and especially this idealised purity combined with the fertility of youth, and all this in one…
“It was definitely interesting to think about – why men write the female characters they do.
“Just like the way they write the male character. How much is wish-fulfilment fantasy, and why.”
After this role, she was in short film Developing in 1994, and then began to work in more acclaimed films, like Michael Mann’s Heat, starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
In 1996 she had roles in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks!, comedy drama Everyone Says I Love You and romcom Beautiful Girls, before she took part in Star Wars.
Read More: Hollywood News