In a 2018 Vanity Fair interview timed to the release of Brady Corbett’s “Vox Lux,” Portman revealed that she tapped a specific life experience for her Amidala scenes. Per Portman:

“I had been to Japan. I went to the Kabuki theater, and when I saw the sort of drawings for Queen Amidala, I was like, ‘Oh my god, that reminds me of the Kabuki!’ And so I tried as a 16-year-old to kind of, like, channel that influence because it was such a specific style. The slow kind of movement, and very, kind of, dreamlike … I mean, I don’t know if any of it reads. You’re paying attention to the spaceships.”

People began goofing on Portman’s performance as early as the release of the full theatrical trailer in early 1999 (based solely on her delivery of “Our people are dying, Senator”). I was one amongst those who winced at the time, but in retrospect I absolutely see it. There is an intriguingly heightened quality to her portrayal of Amidala, so it’s not surprising that, 11 years later, her facility for this style of acting would play a significant part in winning her a Best Actress Oscar for Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.”

I still wish Lucas had been able to farm out the direction of the actors to someone who actually likes actors, though I fully understand why this would be an unappealing assignment. Still, Portman has her moments in these films, and she did grow more comfortable as she honed her craft. I can’t imagine what it must’ve felt like getting savaged by critics and snarky nerds while navigating young adulthood, but Portman somehow shook it off and is now one of our finest actors.

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