Keira Knightley plays Sabé -- a stand-in for Padmé who is chosen because of her resemblance to the Queen.
The actor’s first major role didn’t find her falling in love centuries in the past or fighting undead pirates. Keira Knightley starred in the first of George Lucas‘ Star Wars prequels — 1999’s The Phantom Menace. If you didn’t spot her, don’t worry. She was hiding in plain sight, and that was the point.
This may be old news to the more deeply diving Star Wars fans — or for that matter, to the more dedicated Keira Knightley fans — but to the rest of us, the fact that the Pirates of the Caribbean actress helped kick off George Lucas’ prequel films may be brand new info. Who does she play?
Keira Knightley Plays Sabé, The Stand-In For Padmé, In Star Wars
Well, while she does not play the Naboo Queen Padmé Amidala, she plays the woman we are meant to think is Amidala for most of the flick. Knightley plays Sabé — a stand-in for Padmé who is chosen because of her resemblance to the Queen.
Natalie Portman finally reveals herself as the true Queen to the Gungan ruler Boss Nass (Brian Blessed) in the second half of the film in a risky bid to earn the Gungans’ support. The picture below is from that scene, shortly before Padmé unveils herself. Knightley is in the foreground in white makeup and an elaborate headdress, with Portman behind her and to the left…
Keira Knightley was hired largely because she could pass as a Natalie Portman lookalike, and the resemblance continues to confuse fans.
Keira Knightley Is Often Mistaken For Natalie Portman, Kate Winslet, And Britney Spears
On a 2014 episode of The Graham Norton Show, Knightley shared the stage with her Phantom Menace co-star Samuel L. Jackson and the subject of being confused for other celebrities came up.
When it was Knightley’s turn to gripe, she admitted that — even after appearing in several huge blockbusters — she was not only regularly confused for Natalie Portman, but also Kate Winslet and inexplicably, Britney Spears.
She added that while she always feels awkward about signing her own autograph, she will happily sign autographs as whichever celebrity she’s being confused for, as well as joining the fan for a picture. You can watch that clip below.
Neither Sabé nor Keira Knightley were seen in the Star Wars screen saga after The Phantom Menace, and apparently the actor remains confused about exactly what she did in the film.
Speaking to Coming Soon in 2020, Knightley’s memory seemed a little muddled about the experience. “Wait a minute, who did I play? Was I not Padmé? I was Sabé, ok,” Knightley recalled. “I think I was 12 when I did it, and it came out and I saw it the year after. And I never saw it again. I hope she lived a long and happy life somewhere in a planet far, far away.”
Keira Knightley Lookalikes
Now that Keira Knightley has earned her own bounty of fame, she has her own lookalikes and imitators. One fun example is Sibel Damar, who regularly posts videos on Tik Tok of herself impersonating the Pride & Prejudice star. You can watch a hilarious example below.
@sibel_damar Keira Knightley’s first 21st century snow ❄️ #kieraknightley #impressions #fyp #snow #impersonations #prideandprejudice #comedy #UpTheBeat ♬ Dawn Pride and Prejudice Jean Yves Thibaudet – S I B E L✨D A M A R
While she certainly doesn’t turn her nose up at genre films — as evidenced by her involvement in the Pirates of the Caribbean series as well as smaller features like 2010’s Never Let Me Go — Keira Knightley’s name is more often than not likely to make audiences think of period dramas like Pride & Prejudice or 2007’s Atonement. But her career began in the stars.
No Plan To Return To Star Wars
Though technically her character is still “alive” in the Star Wars universe, there are no plans to have Keira Knightley come back to the franchise at any point. The actress is on record as such and there really have never been much in the way of rumors where this is concerned anyway.
For starters, the timeline of The Phantom Menace isn’t one that’s a part of the current run of series or movies, so from that perspective, we aren’t likely to see the character crop up anytime soon. Knightley was 12 years old when she first filmed the movie, and we are decades removed, but again, there isn’t a ton to mine story-wise from this period of Star Wars canon.
That being said, where this franchise is concerned we really should never say never. Over the past few years, there’s been such a renewed energy about exploring different Star Wars timelines that we shouldn’t really ever say never where character returns are concerned.
But seeing as how now fans are really clamoring for it and Keira Knightley herself claims to really barely even remember playing the part, I don’t think this is in the cards at all.