Here’s a fun fact for you: 16-year-old Natalie Portman was still in school when she played Padme Amidala in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. However, the role could have been taken up by somebody three years younger: Sherlock star Vinette Robinson.
Speaking to The Two Shot Podcast, the actor – who played Sgt Sally Donovan in the BBC super-sleuth series – revealed she’d been asked to audition by her child acting agency. "I remember my first ever audition was for Star Wars for the Natalie Portman character, hilariously," she told host Craig Parkinson.
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However, Robinson said she had problems with her "strong Yorkshire accent". “I didn't know what to do and I was really nervous and I felt like I had to talk really proper, like I tried to talk properly," she said, adding she had to "sit up really straight".
We can’t tell how far Robinson got in the auditioning process, but maybe it was a good thing she wasn’t cast. After all, Portman struggled with the negative backlash to the Phantom Menace's script and her performance: "Everyone thought I was a horrible actress,” she previously told New Yorker magazine (via USA Today) .“I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me.”
But you never know, maybe Robinson could have played Luke Skywalker’s mum and Portman’s main role could have been badgering Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock?
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The Two Shot Podcast Episode 47, featuring Vinette Robinson, is available to listen to now on Podbean.