Why Did Directors Overlook Natalie Portman After ‘Star Wars’?

After being accepted at Harvard she refused all other work for the next 4 years, with the exception of Star Wars, so she could concentrate on her education.

Natalie Portman’s career has been quite successful since her role in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. She has appeared in many critically acclaimed films, such as “Black Swan,” for which she received an Academy Award for Best Actress, and “V for Vendetta.” She has also been involved in various humanitarian and environmental causes. Additionally, she continues to act, and also directs and produces films.

For an actor, having a signature, career-defining role, can be a double-edged sword as you can find yourself just not wanted.

Natalie Portman is one of the most talented and bankable actors of her generation. She has the ability to hold her own in all genres of film, from action, comedy, drama, and even horror. Portman is one of the very few actors who has been able to transition from a successful child actor to an even more successful actor as an adult, with a net worth that proves as much. Because of this, she has been able to steadily act since her career began.

There was a moment in the Black Swan star’s career, however, when she did not know if she had become a pariah in Hollywood. Portman was a consummate professional on set. Her films had all done well at the box office. Portman had starred in a franchise trilogy of films. There was nothing that should have been standing in Portman’s way to become one of the Hollywood elite.

Yet, there were no offers coming in. This was the case even after she starred in the first three installments of Star Wars, which grossed hundreds of millions of dollars. But as Portman would soon learn, it was starring in Star Wars that hindered her career, rather than helped it. In fact, no director wanted to work with Natalie Portman after Star Wars.

Natalie Portman Starred In ‘Star Wars’

When Portman was cast in Episode I: The Phantom Menace as Queen Amidala, she was not aware of the extent of the history and fanbase that Star Wars had. That may have served the Thor star well, given that she landed the part after a conversation with George Lucas before he eventually sold the franchise to Disney.

“I definitely didn’t actively pursue this role at all, but I just met with the casting director like on any other film and just talked to her, and then I met George [Lucas] and talked to him, and I got the part,” Portman explained.

“I hadn’t seen the films until it was offered to me, so I really wasn’t aware of what ‘Star Wars’ was at all.”The reason that Portman made such a good Queen Amidala is that the role required someone who was poised, had the air of royalty, and could be a role model for girls. Even though Portman was only 17 years old, she embodied all of these traits and then some to successfully portray the character.

“The film [“Phantom Menace”] does a great job of creating a positive image for young women,” Portman explained. “It’s good for young girls to see it because she’s very smart, she’s very together, she’s very compassionate and warm.”

Given that Portman portrayed her character the exact way Lucas wanted her to and that not only was Phantom Menace but Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were huge box office winners, it would make sense that Portman’s career would take off after the trilogy.

But instead, the exact opposite happened and Portman could not get hired regardless of what she did.

Why Natalie Portman Had A Hard Time Being Cast After Star Wars

It would stand to reason that starring in a huge franchise film would lead to future work for an actor. But instead of bolstering her career, Star Wars nearly killed Portman’s career before it ever had a chance to take off.

“Star Wars had come out around the time of Seagull and everyone thought I was a horrible actress,” Portman explained. “I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me.”

Because of this, Portman turned to the stage to gain experience and to showcase the fact that she could act. Director, Mike Nichols, saw her talent and cast her in his stage production of Seagull. And it was his word to another director that got the ball rolling again on Portman’s acting career.

“Mike wrote a letter to Anthony Minghella and said, “Put her in Cold Mountain, I vouch for her.'” Portman stated. “And then Anthony passed me on to Tom Tykwer, who passed me on to the Wachowskis.”

This subsequently got Portman cast in V for Vendetta and Black Swan, respectively. And with an Oscar win for Best Actress for her role in Black Swan, where Portman lost 20 pounds for the role, she solidified herself as a tremendous actor and talent in Hollywood.

Given that Star Wars nearly demolished her ability to be cast, it would make sense that Portman would want nothing to do with the franchise in the future. But, surprisingly enough, that could not be further from the truth.

Would Natalie Portman Reprise Her Role In ‘Star Wars’?

In 2022, Portman shared that the director of Thor: Love and Thunder, Taika Waititi approached her to see if she would be interested in the Star Wars movie he was working on.

He failed to remember that the May December star had been Queen Amidala and was beyond embarrassed with his faux pas.

“He says he did [forget] because he like asked me if I wanted to be in a ‘Star Wars’ movie and I was like, ‘I was,'” Portman explained.

“I thought he was joking. He’s such a joker that I thought it was a joke. And then afterward he said in some interview that he was like cringing afterward.

This anecdote had fans wondering if Portman would even want to return to the Star Wars universe in some fashion, either as Queen Amidala come back to life or a new character entirely. Her answer, based on her past, was surprising.

“I have no information on this,” Portman said to GQ. “No one’s ever asked me to return, but I’m open to it.”

Given that Portman has had her career bolstered by writers and directors who believed in her, it would not be surprising if Waititi found a way to write a role for Portman. But now that she is an established actor, any fear of Portman’s career taking a dive again from the franchise is non-existent.

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Stevie Flavio
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