What a difference an episode makes. With the release of ”The Phantom Menace” in 1999, Natalie Portman went from teen ingenue (”The Professional,” Broadway’s ”The Diary of Anne Frank”) to international superstar. Now, with ”Attack of the Clones,” the 20-year-old Portman arrives as a true leading lady, profoundly changed by her college years. Fresh from spring break in Spain (”I slept all day and partied all night,” she laughs), the third-year Ivy League psychology major chats about being older, wiser, and packing blow-dryers for heat.
So how has Queen Amidala changed since ”Episode I”?
Well, she’s no longer queen. She’s now a senator. She wanted to leave government altogether, but the new queen asked her to stay on.
Is Amidala pleased that she doesn’t have to wear the heavy ceremonial garb anymore?
[Laughs] Your real question, of course, is ”Were you pleased?”
You caught me. Were you pleased?
It was obviously a relief. It’s very hard to concentrate when you’re in pain. On the last film, we had one headpiece that had a cord attached to the top and hooked up to a pulley. Someone would walk behind me and pull down to lessen the weight.
Amidala gets a lot more action in this movie — fighting-wise. Was that fun?
It was. But a lot of the stunts have to deal with running from and fighting with imaginary creatures, which was somewhat…amusing.
Is that easy for you — fighting imaginary creatures?
Not before this. But you get surprisingly good when 90 percent of your shots are with a tape mark against a blue screen.