PT Did Portman do a good job as Padme?

Discussion in 'Prequel Trilogy' started by Slowpokeking, Aug 24, 2013.

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  1. Slowpokeking Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2012
    star 4
    Honestly I thought she was a miscast because she looked younger than Hayden in AotC when I knew Padme was going to be Anakin's wife.

    As for the acting, her performance was not impressive in TPM while the character's lines aren't impressive.

    AotC is probably Padme's best one, she did those politician scenes fine but there is no chemistry between the couple. I believe that's mostly Lucas' fault because of his directing and script. RotS focused on Anakin mostly, so Padme's role was simply "Anakin's wife", she showed struggle between love and her political faith while the scenes she got was not enough.

    I think Lucas is responsible for Padme's character not being impressive, to be fair Leia's character wasn't better, there was no struggle in her character, she was totally kept away from the conflict of "Vader and his children". However, I don't understand why so many people blame Hayden when Natilie's character and performance was worse.
  2. Samnz Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
    star 3
    I really liked her as the Queen in Episode I. Her fake accent is quite well realized in my opinion and I especially appreciate her scene in the Senate when she speaks with that determined voice of the Queen while her face shows Padmé's sadness and despair.
    Episode II is a bit strange. I don't think she was bad, I actually like her body acting in the fireplace scene for example. However, she seemed almost absent in some scenes (Anakin's confession comes to my mind, where Christensen was really good) and I don't think her lines can be taken as an "excuse" (because they were a lot less "challenging" than Anakin's).
    I thought she was overall good in Episode III again. That shot is one of my favourite facial expressions on her part:
    [IMG]

    I definitely don't think she was weaker than Carrie Fisher (who was the weak point of the OT cast for me), although she doesn't come close to Ewan McGregor or Mark Hamill.
    Last edited by Samnz, Aug 24, 2013
  3. Ingram_I Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2012
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    Much of the acting throughout the Star Wars saga is what you might call monolithic, statuesque or painterly. Meaning, it’s less about (complex) thespian attributes and more about both casting and how one visualizes the actor/actress with costuming, framing, lighting, editing etc. Much like her romantic opposite, Portman basically gave a kind of soap opera performance: broad, gestured–ranging from physically comfortable to uncomfortable. Her performance was as much, if not more so, about what she was wearing in any given scene, her immediate backdrop, Williams’ score ...stuff like that. This might make it all sound superficial but it’s important to remember that Star Wars is primarily cinematic in that respect. In all respects, really.

    That said, I think Portman did a good job. She provided a service for Lucas in how he translated her natural presence onto the screen, merging it with that of the character in a way I think was very precise and totally appropriate for the story. It’s an old, classical style of filmmaking where you focus more on the innate beauty of your starlet, treating it like an actual substance all its own that can be shaped (or, again, painted) in different ways for different effect. Padme is very soft and demure, but also sharp and commanding when need be, but also light and flowery during the more casual scenes with Anakin. There’s a maternal element about her from the get-go coupled with an underlying sadness, the latter of which ends up consuming the character towards the trilogy’s end. As an actress, I think Portman did well holding said gazes with sincerity. She might seem strangely blank or unaffected in some moments (which I actually think adds a certain something) but always physically poised.
    Last edited by Ingram_I, Aug 24, 2013
  4. Frank T. Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    I thought she did her best in I and II but in III I thought she was terrible. She looked uninterested in all her scenes except in one scene which I think was a reshoot cuz she looked a lot thinner. Maybe she had just been filming the imprisonment scenes for V for Vendetta.
  5. Admiral Volshe Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 8
    I thought she was great. I wouldn't say she was the best actress in the saga; she's far from the worst however.
    I don't think that all the bad parts of her performance were completely her fault as an actress, but I can definitely see why she isn't the strongest.
    I agree that TPM and AOTC were her best overall. I think ROTS was a bit volatile in terms of her perfomance.

    I should add that even with the not-so-great elements, Portman does represent Padmé to me. I can't imagine another actress taking on that role.
    Last edited by Admiral Volshe, Aug 24, 2013
  6. Frank T. Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    Yeah. I don't think she was miscast. I can't think of any young actress at the time that could've pulled off the young Queen of Naboo and the much older and experienced Senator just a couple years later
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  7. Slowpokeking Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2012
    star 4
    I think in TPM she was quite good as the queen, but not amusing as Padme.
  8. Pensivia Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2013
    star 4
    I thought she did fine in TPM when she was acting as the queen, not as well in her Padme/handmaiden scenes (though off the top of my head, I'd say those were still better than any of her AOTC scenes), with perhaps an exception here or there. I agree with Samnz that one of her finest moments in that film was her appeal to the senate and the way she conveys the contrast between her need to depict strong leadership and her internal feelings of worry and sadness. Her worst moment for me is when she delivers the line "I ask you to help us...No, I beg you to help us" to Boss Nass. It just seems so unnecessarily wooden.

    I don't think she did very well in any of AOTC, but I'm not sure how much of that to attribute to hard-to-deliver/poorly written dialogue [edit: and/or poor direction as Captain Morgan points out below] and the fact that she has the task of making believable an attraction to a guy who looks and acts rather creepy towards her at times. (I always cringe at the weird way Anakin touches her bare back in the Naboo balcony scene...Pretty hard to sell a romantic "first kiss" moment after that approach!)

    The complexity of her character/role is of course greatly reduced in ROTS, but, considering what she was given to work with, I thought she was ok but not great in most of those scenes. Thought she could have been better in her scene with Obi ("Anakin's the father, isn't he?"). Ewan really outshines her in that scene. The only part I really like her performance in is the sequence that begins with her landing on Mustafar (and I love, love, love the shot above posted by Samnz!) through when Anakin chokes her. To me, she really communicated Padme's complete despair in that sequence, and I am always moved by her performance when I see it.

    Even having said all that, I also generally agree with Ingram_I's post above in terms of how GL seems to see/approach the function of the actors in the films, perhaps particularly so in the PT.

    But despite my criticisms above, as one can see from my icon, I think shots of Portman as Padme make for great avatars!:)
    Last edited by Pensivia, Aug 24, 2013
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  9. Frank T. Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    A good way to look at the performance and separate it from the writing is to watch her muted
  10. CaptainMorgan2013 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 22, 2013
    star 1
    Um... She is an Oscar winning actress and while I always applaud Lucas' vision, he is not the best at directing his actors/actresses so I wouldn't put the blame on Portman.

    I think she did fine, even though there are some scenes that are a little cringe-worthy.
  11. Slowpokeking Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2012
    star 4
    Hayden is much better with his voice muted.
  12. ezekiel22x Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 5
    She did fine. I especially dig her Clones performance, where there's frequent and compelling snapshots of the different guises of Padme, from the somewhat somber yet strong senator to the delightfully attractive and vibrant young woman it's hard not to fall for during the Naboo interlude (no chemistry my butt, the waterfall picnic feels more natural to me than the Han/Leia screwball bicker flirting of ESB). And while I think more could've been done with the character in Sith, Portman is such a integral piece of the rumination scene with her silent, haunting portrayal of interpersonal tragedy and soon to be lost beauty in the universe that I can't complain too much.
  13. Pensivia Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2013
    star 4
    Oh yeah, I forgot about the Ruminations scene. I like her a lot in that part as well.
  14. General Immodet Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2012
    star 4
    I think Natalie Portman was great in The Other Woman and Black Swan.
    Her acting performances have become better over the years.
    That most certainly is a surplus since only few actors manage to grow over the years.

    In SW, I do not really think she stood out. Her performance was not bad, but not remarkable.
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  15. CaptainMorgan2013 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 22, 2013
    star 1
    For the most part I agree with you.

    I would like to point out that she was also great in The Professional and V for Vendetta.
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  16. _Catherine_ Chosen One

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    Jun 16, 2007
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    She's maybe my favorite actress under 40 working today but she was terrible in these movies.
  17. MOC Yak Face Classic Trilogy and Saga Co-Mod.

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    When you look at the actors who are generally considered to have done a decent acting job in SW - Guinness, McGregor, McDiarmid, Neeson, August, Smits - the thing they tend to have in common is experience. Perhaps it's a case of needing plenty of that to be able to achieve a good performance in the somewhat difficult conditions provided by this type of film making.
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  18. Pensivia Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2013
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    Interesting observation, @DarthDuckie.

    btw, who is "August"?

    And: just curious--would you include Harrison Ford in your list above? He didn't have as much acting experience as some in that list, of course, but maybe more than Hayden C., etc.?
    Last edited by Pensivia, Aug 25, 2013
  19. MOC Yak Face Classic Trilogy and Saga Co-Mod.

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    Pernilla August. Shmi. :)

    It's just a theory and not one I've held up to close scrutiny. Harrison hadn't had that much acting experience but he was a bit older than some of the others and maybe had the maturity to deal with some of the challenges presented and not get put off. GL isn't really an actor's director. I wonder whether some of the young, inexperienced actors might have struggled a bit with that. Maybe gone a bit 'possum in the headlights'?

    Also, I think Harrison, Mark and Carrie managed to pull a few things off, particularly in ANH, because there was strong chemistry amongst them and they were having a bloody good laugh while they were doing it. Despite the iffy dialogue etc they somehow get away with it.
    Last edited by DarthDuckie, Aug 25, 2013
  20. Rachel_In_Red Jedi Grand Master

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    May 12, 2013
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    I thought she did fine with what she was given.
  21. Legolas Skywalker Force Ghost

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  22. Mr. K Moderator Emeritus

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  23. heels1785 Jedi Draft Commissioner

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    I thought she was brilliant, outside of a few hokey scenes in AOTC that weren't really her fault- she grew as the trilogy did, and improved upon every performance. She was especially good in the scene with McGregor upon learning about Anakin- she was believable, and ultimately very identifiable in her actions as a protective spouse of a bad person, as is seen time and time again in the real world.
  24. Aegon Starcaster Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 27, 2013
    star 2
    Harrison always had the added benefit of having worked with GL before Star Wars, which would seem to have worked out for him. I'm sure many have seen Kurt Russell's audition for Han. Although he was an experienced actor, he still seemed to approach the character and script as though it were one of those weird science fiction movies that came before Star Wars. I also think the auditioning process for Luke and Leia was a painstaking one. Both of them, though very young, had well rounded voices, and a pretty good onscreen presence.
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  25. SithStarSlayer Manager Emeritus

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