The latest additions to the “Star Wars” cinematic oeuvre have been almost universally beloved (except maybe for “Solo”), but it wasn’t too long ago that expanding the “Star Wars” universe seemed like a terrible idea. While George Lucas is still inexplicably holding firm that Jar Jar Binks is his “Star Wars” favorite character, many fans still remember the crushing disappointment of the polarizing CGI character, and the uneven trilogy that birthed him. There is one person who won’t soon forget the backlash to the prequel films, though not for the same reason.
“It was hard,” Natalie Portman told Empire. “It was a bummer because it felt like people were so excited about new ones and then to have people feel disappointed. Also to be at an age that I didn’t really understand that’s kind of the nature of the beast. When something has that much anticipation it can almost only disappoint.”
Portman played Padmé Amidala, Queen of Naboo, Galactic senator, and co-founder of the Rebel Alliance. (Also mother of Luke and Leia Skywalker, but let’s lead with her other achievements, shall we?) Although Portman was certainly a highlight of the prequel trilogy, her performance alone was not enough to quell the tide of negative reaction at the time. However, the actress said she’s been heartened to see the films eventual embraced by a small but vocal faction of “Star Wars” fans.
“With the perspective of time, it’s been re-evaluated by a lot of people who actually really love them now,” Portman said. “There’s a very avid group of people who think they’re the best ones now! I don’t have enough perspective to weigh in.”
Portman appears in all three “Star Wars” prequel films, released between 1999 and 2005: “Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” “Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” and “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” Unlike her co-star Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker, Portman’s career was virtually unaffected by the backlash to “Star Wars.” She had a string of critical hits between Episodes II and III; “Cold Mountain,” “Garden State,” and “Closer” were all released back to back. She followed those up with “V for Vendetta,” which put her back in good stead with the sci-fi/genre/comic book crowd. And by the end of the decade, she’d won an Oscar for “Black Swan.”