British actress Keira Knightley has risen to movie stardom over the years from films such as the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and her critically acclaimed performance in Atonement, but little is it known by many that the star actually played a pivotal role in the Star Wars franchise. The actress is featured in the first episode of the Star Wars prequel saga, The Phantom Menace, released in 1999.
Knightley’s role in The Phantom Menace is more prominent than viewers actually realize. The actress played the part of Sabé, Queen Amidala’s handmaiden. Academy Award Winner Natalie Portman played the iconic role of Queen Amidala in the prequel series and it has been stated that Knightley was cast as the handmaiden due to her very close resemblance to Portman.
The role of Sabé allows Knightley to take the Queen’s identity in the film in order to protect Amidala from the invasion of the Trade Federation and the Sith who are in pursuit of her. Portman takes on the identity of the handmaiden throughout the film under the name of Padmé, which in fact turns out to be the Queen’s true name.
Sabé attempts to make a peace treaty with the alien colony known as the gungans towards the end of the film in hopes of forming an army against the oncoming enemy. She inevitably fails at garnering the Boss gungan’s support. This is when Portman, as the handmaiden Padmé, reveals herself as the true queen and Knightley’s character, Sabé, as her loyal decoy. Padmé convinces the gungans to join forces with her army and the planet is saved from the invasion all due to their efforts.
Knightley’s performance as Sabé was seen on the silver screen years before she had actually risen to Hollywood stardom. it would not be until 2003 that the actress would take on the star-making role of Elizabeth Swan in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl and become a recognizable face and name in the entertainment industry. The star’s career sky-rocketed soon after the first Pirates film where she continued to find a niche market for herself by performing in period films such as Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, The Duchess and Anna Karenina.
The actress has starred in multiple movies this year, one being the indie music dramedy Begin Again in which she stars opposite of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. This particular film featured Knightley’s vocal chops as a singer, something her followers had not quite seen from her yet. The actress also starred in the action-packed Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opposite of Chris Pine this year.
The Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City has announced that Knightley will be making her Broadway debut in the company’s stage adaptation of the novel Thérèse Raquin by author Émile Zola. Although the actress has served the London stage on the West End in a number of productions, this adaptation will mark Knightley’s first performance on the New York stage.
From Star Wars, to Pirates of the Caribbean and from blockbuster movies to Broadway plays, Kiera Knightley has proved her worth as a very credible actress in the entertainment business. One can sit back and enjoy the show as it seems this woman is just getting started.
By Cody Collier