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Let’s face it: George Lucas did such a swell job in the Star Wars prequels of merging Natalie Portman’s Queen Amidala look with that of her decoy (played by Keira Knightley) that we admittedly had a hard time always keeping track of which actor was actually onscreen. But hey, that’s still a step ahead of Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi, who apparently forgot Portman was ever in the prequel trilogy at all.
Speaking recently with Rolling Stone to channel the last-minute energy ahead of this week’s long-awaited Love and Thunder premiere, Waititi confessed he completely forgot about the fact that Portman, who's playing a big role in the upcoming Thor movie, also had a really big late-1990s, early-2000s role in the Star Wars movie cycle detailing the rise of Anakin Skywalker. Thankfully, though, Portman herself was the one who forced his memory straight.
Touching base with Portman early in Love and Thunder’s development about his upcoming Star Wars film, Waititi said he thought he could entice her — for the first time, no less — to learn a thing or two about the galaxy far, far away. ”Natalie said to me, 'What do you do next?’ And I said, 'I'm trying to work on a Star Wars thing. Have you ever wanted to be in a Star Wars movie?’” Waititi recalled. “She said, 'I've been in Star Wars movies.' I forgot about those ones.”
Not that anyone needs a refresher, but Portman wasn’t exactly a forgettable background presence in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Starring as Naboo Queen then Senator Padmé Amidala, the love interest of Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and the mother of Luke and Leia, she appeared in all three Star Wars prequel films from 1999’s Episode I – The Phantom Menace to 2005’s Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.
After a break from the Marvel Cinematic Universe with no role in 2017’s Waititi-directed Thor: Ragnarok, Portman is returning in Love and Thunder to reprise her part as Jane Foster — a character she originally portrayed opposite star Chris Hemsworth in Kenneth Branagh’s 2011 Thor. She’s come a long way from her early origins as an earthly research scientist who falls for the Asgardian hero, though; in Love and Thunder, Jane is set to step up big time, assuming the mantle of the comics-based Mighty Thor.
As for Star Wars, Waititi doesn’t seem to be too far along in the process of crafting a new story (and new characters) to expand the lore of one of sci-fi’s most cherished franchises. “…I don’t want to rush,” he explained to Rolling Stone. “It’s something I wouldn’t want to just leap into and not feel that it’s unique, it’s my film, and it makes sense. Because that would be a disaster. I’m writing at the moment. So I’m gonna do my best to come up with an idea that everyone loves.”
You can catch verified Star Wars veteran Natalie Portman along with the rest of Marvel’s cracklin’ good cast when Thor: Love and Thunder hammers into theaters beginning Friday, July 8.
Thor: Love and Thunder is one of many big blockbusters expected to light up the box office this summer. Jurassic World Dominion is out now, and Jordan Peele's sci-fi horror mystery Nope opens July 22 in theaters.