Natalie Portman opens up about the Star Wars prequels' initial backlash amid their growing popularity

Natalie Portman starred in all three Star Wars prequels and feels grateful but admits that the initial backlash was harsh and difficult to handle.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Padme Amidala played by Natalie Portman. Image credit:
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Padme Amidala played by Natalie Portman. Image credit: /

Natalie Portman says she's still approached by Star Wars fans of different ages and appreciated for her performance as Padme Amidala.

Portman was just 16 when filming on Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace began, in which she played Queen Padme Amidala of Naboo. Over time, her character evolved and she became a Senator and wife to Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker. It's a dynamic role, and Portman feels grateful to have had the opportunity. According to MovieWeb, while speaking to TotalFilm about the initially harsh backlash to the prequels, Portman shared how lucky she feels to have been a part of them:

"I see it as an extraordinarily lucky thing to have been part of. I know how meaningful it is for people. And, every day, still, people are like, 'I just watched it with my kids.' To be part of something like that that's part of that cultural mythology, and part of people's childhoods, in such a vibrant way, is so, so lucky."

Natalie Portman.

Portman has every reason to feel lucky to be a part of Episodes I-III as fans have grown to appreciate them over time, and the recent re-release of The Phantom Menace for its 25th anniversary was a resounding success. Apart from that, The Phantom Menace has also become the most streamed Star Wars movie on Disney+, beating out all other chapters of The Skywalker Saga, Solo, and Rogue One.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 25th anniversary artwork. Image Credit: /

That's not to say the actress doesn't remember how badly the films were initially received. While looking back on the harsh reactions, Portman admits that it wasn't easy to deal with:

"I think obviously with the reaction to them when they came out, being as harsh at it was – it was hard."

Natalie Portman.

The prequels have benefitted from seven great seasons of The Clone Wars, which have endeared them to a younger generation of fans. These seasons have also given fans who grew up with the movies more development of their favorite characters, including Portman's Padme Amidala.

While there's no word on whether Natalie Portman has watched The Clone Wars, where her character is a series regular, she admits that time has done wonders for the prequels:

"And obviously, over time they've gained more appreciation, which has been nice, to always feel the balm of time. But, yeah, I feel very blessed to have been part of that, at that moment in my life."

Natalie Portman

In recent years, Natalie's co-stars Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, and Ian McDiarmid returned to Star Wars. McDiarmid reprised his role as Darth Sidious in The Rise of Skywalker, while Christensen and McGregor got to star opposite each other again in Obi-Wan Kenobi. Christensen is also a part of Ahsoka Season 1, but we wonder if there's any chance that Natalie Portman could return in some capacity despite Padme's tragic fate in Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

You can watch Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala in the Star Wars prequels, streaming on Disney+.

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