Whatever happened to the women of Star Wars?

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (well, actually this galaxy), George Lucas came up with an idea that would change the world as we know it. Back in 1973, the director created a low-budget flick called American Graffiti which was based on his childhood and love for cars. Costing just $1 million to produce, the movie became a sensation at the Box Office; bringing in $50 million and five Oscar nominations. Seeing how successful he could be, and feeling confident, George Lucas decided to pitch an idea that he had been working on since 1971, alongside his partner Gary Kurtz.

The idea was a ‘space opera,’ based on sci-fi adventures that George Lucas had loved when he was a kid. The writer and director wanted to create something that teenagers would like, that would give them somewhere for their imagination to roam. A treatment for the script was written up and taken to various Hollywood studios, all of whom declined what Lucas and Kurtz had to show them. Eventually, 20th Century Fox offered to give the guys some money to bulk out their script, after seeing how successful American Graffiti had been. However, it took years and years for the pair to put something together that would even be considered by the studio. Four drafts later, and a lot of negotiating over the budget (Lucas wanted $15 million, Fox said $7.5 million), and the first movie began shooting on March 25, 1976.


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Little did anyone know quite how huge the Star Wars franchise would turn out to be. George Lucas and Gary Kurtz had created an incredible world, that blended everything a ‘space opera’ needed and appealed to the masses. That first movie went over budget, costing them $11 million to make, but grossed over $513 million around the world. The original trilogy was a huge success and spurred Lucas to create the prequel trilogy (which received a mixed reception). A sequel trilogy is now in the works, with the first movie being released in 2015 and the second being released in December 2017. There have also been various spin-off movies, with yet more in the works, along with various video games, comic books, theme park attractions, and much more. Star Wars has become the second highest-grossing media franchise of all time, with a worth of $42 billion!

If there is one thing that Star Wars does well, it’s feisty female characters. However, do you ever wonder what happened to the Twi’leks, Togrutas, Queens of Naboo, handmaidens, and even the female fighter pilots? Did they end up in a galaxy far, far away or do they have their feet firmly planted in Hollywood?

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Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker Lars

Shmi Skywalker Lars was the mother of Anakin Skywalker and stepmom to Owen Lars. Shmi had a pretty tragic life, starting off as a slave and then giving birth to Anakin who was prophesized as ‘the chosen one.’ She was then sold to Cliegg Lars when her son left to train in the Jedi ways, who finally gave her some peace by freeing her – and marrying her! Unfortunately, Shmi was to meet a tragic end when she was tortured by a group of Tusken Raiders; she died in her son’s arms. She did come back slightly later on, however, as a vision, to convince Anakin to break his relationship with Padme Amidala or end up becoming part of the dark side…

Pernilla August now

Pernilla August is one of the most prolific Swedish actresses, who has nearly 70 acting credits to her name! She had already been in various Swedish TV shows before playing Shmi Skywalker in Star Wars Episode I and II, and she became even more sought after once she’d finished her roles in the sci-fi blockbusters. While most of her works have been in Swedish, she did also appear in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles back in 1993.

Ayesha Dharker as Queen Jamillia

Queen Jamillia took over as Queen of Naboo from Padme Amidala once the former queen had completed her two four-year terms. The people loved Amidala, however, and Jamillia could see this. It was the new queen who would convince Padme Amidala to serve as the Naboo representative in the Senate of the Galactic Republic. Queen Jamillia genuinely cared for her predecessor and was constantly worried about the safety of Amidala, especially as there were so many assassination attempts on the former queen.

Ayesha Dharker now

This British-Indian actress had already been nominated for awards before being in Star Wars, including Best Actress at the National Film Awards for her role in the 1997 flick, The Terrorist. Much of her work after Star Wars tended to be in television, with parts in Doctor Who, Coronation Street, Waterloo Road, and most recently Holby City. Ayesha Dharker is also known for her work on-stage with a part in Bombay Dreams at the West End and on Broadway.

Keisha Castle-Hughes as Queen Apailana

By the end of the Clone Wars, Naboo was ready for a new queen, and Apailana was elected ruler. She took over from Queen Neeyutnee (who we don’t see in the movies, but who is in the stories and animated movie) when she was just 12-years-old. Despite her young age, Apailana was one smart cookie and refused to believe the official story of how Padme Amidala had passed away. The young queen attends and openly mourns at Padme Amidala’s funeral during Episode III.

Keisha Castle-Hughes now

Keisha Castle-Hughes was just 15-years-old when she landed her small part in Star Wars, but she had already had her taste of the limelight. Her film debut was in Whale Rider, which earned her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination at just 13! After a few other film and TV credits, Keisha Castle-Hughes is now best known for her part as Obra Sand in the HBO hit series, Game of Thrones. With so much already under her belt, we can expect more big things from this young actress.

Keira Knightley as Sabe

If you think that Sabe, Padme Amidala’s handmaiden, looks a lot like Natalie Portman, then you wouldn’t be the only one! In fact, even the cast and crew found it difficult to tell the two apart. Keira Knightley played Sabe, one of Padme Amidala’s five handmaidens, but also acted as her decoy when needed; she even managed to do this during the invasion, tricking the Federation into thinking she was the Queen of Naboo. As the handmaiden of one of the most important people in the galaxy, Sabe learned self-defense and was a pretty good marksman – even taking down a battle droid in one shot!

Keira Knightley now

Keira Knightley became one of the most prominent British actresses in the 2000s, landing starring roles in movies such as Bend It Like Beckham and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. With her quintessential British look and accent, Keira Knightley found her niche in period dramas, such as Pride & Prejudice, The Duchess, and Anna Karenina. In 2008, the young star was listed as the second-highest-paid actress in Hollywood, according to Forbes. Keira Knightley has a whopping four movies in production at the moment, so we’re going to see a lot more of her soon!

Nalini Krishan as Barriss Offee

Barriss Offee used to be a loyal Jedi Padawan who trained under Jedi Master Luminara Unduli. Preferring her books to her lightsaber, Barriss Offee came up with a plan after she became disillusioned by the Jedi Order and the Jedi Council. She masterminded the Jedi Temple bombing and then framed her friend Ahsoka Tano for the attack. Anakin Skywalker managed to squeeze the truth out of her, however, and she was taken away, but not before she had her say about how she thought the Jedi were being corrupted by the dark side…

Nalini Krishan now

Nalini Krishnan was born in Fiji, raised in Australia, and has Nepalese and Indian heritage! Before her role in Star Wars Episode II, she had some small roles in movies and TV shows in Australia, along with modeling on the side. Her fanbase quickly grew when she took part in Bollywood Factor, an Australian TV show that aired on cable channels across the globe, and made it into the top five. In June 2017, Nalini Krishan was made an honorary member of The Galactic Academy Tatooine and is frequently meeting Star Wars fans at conventions.

Bronagh Gallagher as Maoi Madakor

“Shields up!” were the last words of the brave Captain Maoi Madakor, from Star Wars Episode I. Madakor was good friends with Lieutenant Antidar Williams after they took part in a mission together during the Battle of Galidraan. When she needed a co-pilot to help transport Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn to negotiate with the Trade Federation, she picked her good friend Williams. While they waited for the Jedi to return for their mission, they noticed that a turbolaser was pointed at their ship. Maoi Madakor called for the deflector shield to be put up, but it was too late.

Bronagh Gallagher now

Bronagh Gallagher is an Irish actress who had already had a taste of Hollywood before her Star Wars role. The eagle-eyed of you may remember her as Trudi in Pulp Fiction, Mrs. Smash in Thunderpants, and Bragnae in Tristan + Isolde, and Bernie in The Commitments; the latter of which actually saw her featured on an Irish postage stamp. Gallagher has been on various TV shows over the years, including Count Arthur Strong in 2017, You, Me and the Apocalypse in 2015, and the popular British comedy Pramface in 2012 until 2014.

Femi Taylor as Oola

Every Star Wars fan remembers Oola, the Twi’lek slave dancer! While she may have only featured shortly in Episode VI, her role was certainly a memorable one. Oola is performing a dance for Jabba in his palace, just before a disguised Princess Leia and Chewbacca enter. As the Max Rebo Band plays, Jabba tries to pull Oola closer to him, clearly enchanted by her dance. However, Oola is having none of it and pulls back on her chain in defiance. She soon regrets that as Jabba pulls her over a trapdoor, before opening it and letting her be eaten by his pet rancor. Ouch!

Femi Taylor now

Femi Taylor was born in Nigeria and now lives in London and Denmark with her two children and Danish partner. While she didn’t feature in any other big movies after playing Oola, she did become the only cast member to reprise her role and film extra scenes for the 1997 Special Edition release of Episode VI. Femi Taylor had barely changed in the 14 years between films, which meant they could film a close up of her terror at being eaten by the rancor in the special edition.

Celia Imrie as Dinee Ellberger

Dinee Ellberger played a small but important part in Episode I, as Bravo Five, part of the Bravo Squadron. When Bravo Leader Ric Olie called all of the N-1 starfighters to arms, in order to attack the Trade Federation’s droid control ship. Dinee Ellberger flew Bravo 5 as part of the mission before Anakin Skywalker flew into the ship’s hangar and fires torpedoes at the reactor core. Very little is known about Dinee, other than the fact she had a difficult past, which everyone knew not to talk about.

Celia Imrie now

If you’ve been trying to work out why this actress looks familiar, it’s because Celia Imrie is a pretty big deal! She may have only had a small part in one Star Wars movie, but her filmography is seriously extensive. You may recognize her from Calendar Girls, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Nanny McPhee, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and the list goes on and on. This British actress has 155 acting credits to her name, with her first role back in 1971.

Sofia Coppola as Sache

Padme Amidala had five handmaidens, with one of them being Sache. While her part may have only been small, there is a very interesting reason as to why she was played by Sofia Coppola. George Lucas, Star Wars creator, was like an uncle to Sofia and good friends with her father, Francis Ford Coppola. Wanting to be a part of the saga, she asked Lucas if she could watch the shoot. He offered her the small role of Sache, which she accepted as she felt it was a good place to watch but not get in the way!

Sofia Coppola now

As we know, Sofia Coppola is the daughter of the extremely famous director, Francis Ford Coppola. Her film debut was actually in her father’s critically acclaimed film, The Godfather, and this gave her a thirst for the movie industry. While she didn’t act in any other big movies after Star Wars, she did turn her hand to writing and directing. She penned Lost in Translation, which earned her an Academy Award win for Best Original Screenplay, along with a nomination for Best Director. Sofia is now directing the opera La Traviata for the Teatro Nazionale in Rome, Italy.

Caroline Blakiston as Mon Mothma

Star Wars knows how to do a strong, powerful woman and Mon Mothma was certainly no different. Trying to sum up her part in the Star Wars universe in just a few words is pretty difficult, especially if you take into account her roles in the comic books and animated movie. We first meet her, however, in Return of the Jedi, where she is played by Caroline Blakiston. The revolutionary leader left the Senate after denouncing Emperor Palpatine and became the first chancellor of the New Republic Senate.

Caroline Blakiston now

This British actress has been on TV screens and in movies since 1962 with nearly 100 acting credits to her name! In the UK, she is best known for her part in the comedy series Brass, and more recently for playing Aunt Agatha in Poldark. Caroline Blakiston has also been in the TV movie Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple: At Bertram’s Hotel, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and Midsomer Murders. The 84-year old actress is still active today!

Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala

Quite possibly one of the most strong, smart and just generally awesome female characters in the Star Wars movies (other than Princess Leia, of course) was Padme Amidala. As one of the leading members of the Galactic Senate, the Queen of Naboo, and one of the key voices for peace and diplomacy, Padme Amidala Naberrie eventually married Anakin Skywalker and became the mother of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Little did she know how important her children would be in the fight against the Empire later on in Star Wars world.

Natalie Portman now

Natalie Portman portrayed Padme Amidala in Star Wars Episodes I to III while studying for her degree in psychology from Harvard (she filmed her parts during her university summer break). Since the Star Wars movies, the Israeli American actress has gone from strength to strength, starring in award-winning movies such as Black Swan (earning her an Academy Award for Best Actress) and Jackie where she played Jacqueline Kennedy. Portman, just like Padme Amidala, also fights for many social issues and causes that she believes in.

Amy Allen as Aayla Secura

This distinctive blue Twi’lek was a skilled fighter, particularly when it came to the lightsaber, and took part in countless battles throughout the war. Aayla Secura survived the Battle of Geonosis, Quell, and Coruscant before meeting her untimely end during the Battle of Felucia when Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine commanded the extinction of ALL Jedi. Her death was actually seen in a Force vision by Padawan Caleb Dume and Master Depa Billaba, as well as being felt by Yoda when it happened.

Amy Allen now

Amy Allen has become a Star Wars’ fan favorite at all of the conventions over the years, with websites dedicated to the star – despite her only having a small part in the movies. Before landing her part in Episode II, Amy Allen actually worked behind the scenes and had been an extra in Episode I. Since Aayla Secura was killed off, the brief star has gone back behind the scenes, working as an assistant in movies such as Deja Vu, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and as a visual effects coordinator on Elektra.

Orli Shoshan as Shaak Ti

This kooky looking character was a member of the Jedi Council and eventually became a Jedi General during the Clone Wars. Shaak Ti is part of the Togruta species, who are known for their large montrals and head tails, along with being all manner of beautiful colors. This species is also well-known for their love of war and for having special powers. For example, Shaak Ti could use telekinesis during battle. She met her grisly end when Darth Vader attacked the Jedi Temple while she was meditating.

Orli Shoshan now

Orli Shoshan is an Israeli film actress who got her first big break in Star Wars Episode II as the legendary Shaak Ti. It is thought that her character’s melee expertise was based on Orli’s real-life prowess in hand-to-hand combat after she served as a member of the Israeli Defense Forces for two years. Orli has taken a break from acting to bring up her two daughters and concentrate on a very different career path indeed; interior design and home staging. Her business, O Designs by Orli Shoshan, is based in Chicago, Illinois, where she now resides.

Bonnie Piesse as Beru Whitesun Lars

Beru was the wife of Owen Lars (who was the son of Cliegg Lars, which is where it all gets very complicated). Three years after Shmi Skywalker passed away, Obi-Wan Kenobi asks Beru and Owen to become the carers of a newborn baby, saying that his parents were dead, but not telling them anymore. They name him Luke Skywalker, in honor of Owen’s late stepmom. Little do they know that this baby is actually the son of Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala. Goodness, it is complex, isn’t it?!

Bonnie Piesse now

Bonnie Piesse played the young Beru Whitesun Lars in Star Wars Episode II and III, after being scouted by George Lucas. Before her role in the sci-fi franchise, she had already made a name for herself as a trapeze artist in High Flyers, an Australian TV series. She has since gone on to feature in various short movies and the TV series, Sundays. Bonnie Piesse has also dabbled in a musical career, releasing an album called The Deep End in 2011, and having several of her songs featured in movies and on TV.

Rose Byrne as Dorme

Yet another of Padme Amidala’s handmaidens, who stuck by her side through thick and thin. Dorme went everywhere with Amidala and was by her side during several assassination attempts on the now Senator. While she may not have been Queen of Naboo anymore, Amidala did get to keep five of her handmaidens and Dorme was thought to be one of her most loyal aides. As with all of the handmaidens, Dorme had some serious bodyguard training to protect Amidala.

Rose Byrne now

Over the last decade or so, Rose Byrne has seen her career explode. The Australian actress has been in several big-hit comedies recently, including Bridesmaids, both the Neighbors movies, Get Him to the Greek and Spy. She also plays Moira MacTaggert in X-Men First Class and Apocalypse. Byrne now lives in New York with her partner Bobby Cannavale and their two children; the most recent of which was born in November 2017. The actress currently has three movies in production, including Peter Rabbit.

Daisy Ridley then

Over the last decade or so, Rose Byrne has seen her career explode. The Australian actress has been in several big-hit comedies recently, including Bridesmaids, both the Neighbors movies, Get Him to the Greek and Spy. She also plays Moira MacTaggert in X-Men First Class and Apocalypse. Byrne now lives in New York with her partner Bobby Cannavale and their two children; the most recent of which was born in November 2017. The actress currently has three movies in production, including Peter Rabbit.

Daisy Ridley now

Daisy has continued to act, acting in a role in the documentary The Eagle Huntress. She also was cast in Murder on the Orient Express, having been given the role of Mary Debenham. Ridley also reprised her role as Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In her personal life, Daisy suffers from endometriosis, and at 15 had to undergo several surgeries to fix the condition. She also got a tattoo of three stars on her foot at the age of 15 as well.

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