A security detail is one thing, but by the time George Lucas’ “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” was released in 2002, Padm Amidala (Natalie Portman) was being guarded by more than just Jedi Knights Obi-Wan (Ewan MacGregor) and Anakin (Hayden Christensen). The former queen (now a senator) is in danger from political separatists led by former Jedi Master Count Dooku ten years after the events of “The Phantom Menace” (Christopher Lee). Her handmaidens are part of the senators crew, a royal dividend Padm keeps after becoming a senator, and it soon becomes obvious why she must roll deep at all times. Rose Byrne, who has appeared in films such as “Insidious,” “Bridesmaids,” and others, is one of the handmaidens. You wouldn’t know that Byrne doesn’t even count herself as a Star Wars geek from her part as Dorm, which is filled with care for Amidala throughout the film’s lengthy 142-minute runtime.
According to E.K. Johnston’s canon novel “Queen’s Peril,” which Byrne referenced in an interview with Uproxx, the handmaidens purposefully chose names with “ey” accents that were similar to one other in order to throw off anyone trying to follow the queen’s subjects and habits. Byrne also discusses how she came to get the “Clones” position, which may have been more about geography than anything else.
We better hire that girl!
The handmaiden Cord (Veronica Seguradeath )’s in the targeted vessel explosion in “Attack of the Clones” showed that the luminary’s servants were more than just gilded hairdressers; they would carry out espionage on her behalf, listen in on tactical plotting, and give their lives for their queen as decoys and guards as necessary. Aides like Dorm, who had received combat fighting and marksmanship training from Captain Panaka (Hugh Quarshie) of the Royal Naboo Security Forces, were chosen to assist the queen/senator with both daily work and threat avoidance.
How then did Byrne land the role? She said to Uproxx:
“I think they just had to, it was shot in Sydney, so they had to get a bunch of Australians in the cast. I think that’s why I got the part. ‘We better hire that girl!’ I’m like one of the point zero one percent who is not a ‘Star Wars’ fan… Everybody else was over the moon!”
Byrne continues by laughing about the odd sensation one gets these days when they see a well-known actor in a supporting role; many use the meme of Leonardo DiCaprio pointing at his TV in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to express the same sensation. The “Seriously Red” heroine had nothing but nice words and happy memories of her time working on the space opera, a franchise entry that still divides fans and critics to this day. When asked if “Attack of the Clones” was a “welcome-to-Hollywood” moment for her, she had no idea what that phrase meant.
Donna Dickens of /Film has long advocated for a TV series about the queen’s right-hand women, citing their expansive structure, rich history, and Naboo’s fascinating government in general. The phrase “The Royal Handmaidens of Naboo” does really sound elegant.