Natalie Portman is, today, a respected actress. But back in 1999, she’d just landed her biggest role as Queen Amidala in the Star Wars prequels… and it nearly forced her out of the business altogether.
Portman, talking about Mike Nichols with New York Magazine as part of their retrospective on the beloved and sadly recently passed filmmaker is pretty blunt about what happened. The movie came out, everyone saw it… and everything promptly went to hell:
Star Wars had come out around the time of [The Seagull], and everyone thought I was a horrible actress. I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me. Mike wrote a letter to Anthony Minghella and said, “Put her in Cold Mountain, I vouch for her.” And then Anthony passed me on to Tom Tykwer, who passed me on to the Wachowskis.
To get an idea of just how terrible Star Wars can be for your career, take a look at what, say, Hayden Christensen has been up to since, or how bitter Jake Lloyd is over what the movie did to his life. It’s not a reach to say starring in a movie that grossed millions and was seen by everybody screwed a whole bunch of careers.
The lesson we take away from all this is that George needs to start making movies again. If he can almost completely wipe out a promising career with just one movie, imagine what he could do with people like Kim Kardashian and Rob Schneider. Throw them into the void that is a Lucas movie, and it might create a singularity that destroys every possibility that we would ever hear from them again.
Come on, George. Make it happen. After the prequels, you owe us.