Author E.K. Johnston’s 6 Favorite Padmé Moments

StarWars.com

Whether forging an alliance with the Gungans, spying for the Jedi Council, or standing up to the entire Galactic Senate, Padmé Amidala, devoted to her civic duty from the young age of 14 when she was elected as Queen of Naboo, often proves she’s a courageous leader who isn’t afraid to take part in even more aggressive negotiations.

In writing her latest book, Star Wars: Queen’s Shadow, author E.K. Johnston had the chance to explore a previously unexamined period in the character’s life. The story is set in the time between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, with a special focus on Padmé and her handmaidens as she transitioned from noble teenage queen to formidable senator from Naboo. When Johnston recently paid a visit to the Lucasfilm headquarters, we asked her to name her personal fan-favorite moments that spotlight Padmé, her forbidden relationship with Anakin Skywalker, and her ingenuity in handling almost any situation that comes her way.

Full disclosure: “Most of Padmé is my favorite Padmé moment,” Johnston says. But here are her top six picks.

1. “We are brave, your highness.” An invasion by the Trade Federation put Padmé and her handmaidens in a dilemma in The Phantom Menace: The queen could stay on Naboo and risk annihilation or flee to Coruscant and attempt to plead for her people before the senate. Either choice was dangerous. And to make matters worse, Sabé had to make the call, dressed as the queen’s decoy. “My favorite possible moment in film is ‘We are brave, your highness,’” Johnston says. “I just love that so much. She has to say, ‘We need to leave this planet’ without actually saying the words. Qui-Gon has probably figured it out by that point, but they’re all agreeing to pretend that he hasn’t so they kind of just have this wonderful moment of synergy. All of them, these girls who are teenagers and running a planet. I just love everything about that.”

Padme takes the Theed palace by force.

2. The long way around. “Just from a pure character moment, during the battle of Naboo when the door opens and Darth Maul is there and she’s just like, ‘We’ll go around,’” Johnston says, laughing. “They just go around and leave the Jedi behind. I love that.”

3. An awkward reunion. “Padmé has one of the best filmed ‘Oh no, he’s hot’ moments in the history of  film,” she says. “There’s this moment in Attack of the Clones where she visibly looks into his face and then says the worst possible thing imaginable in front of  both of their bosses — not just his boss, both of their bosses! Which is essentially ‘Oh little Ani, you’ve grown up.’ And he’s like, I’m gonna die now, this is the worst possible outcome that could happen.” That authenticity is what makes the exchange one of Johnston’s favorites. “I think it’s fantastic because you have this girl who’s really good at talking to people, but not in a personal way. And then you have Anakin, who doesn’t talk to anybody except for Obi-Wan, who is a terrible role model for that sort of thing. I just love that moment where she totally takes the wind out of his sails and you can just imagine he’s been waiting to see her for 10 years. He’s so excited and she says the worst possible thing and then they have to spend time together, which is hilarious.”

4. Basically everything about the lake house retreat. Although the awkward flirting surrounding Anakin’s feelings about sand is Johnston’s favorite moment from this part of Padmé and Anakin’s time together, she’s an unabashed fan of the entire sequence. “Basically everything that happens at the lake house. It’s so pretty and it’s the most relaxed she ever gets to be even though she’s still super awkward around boys. Padmé and Anakin have the most amazing have-never-tried-to-flirt-with-anyone dialogue ever!”

For example, Anakin’s musings on sand. “It’s awkward flirting by a teenage boy who’s trying very hard to say the right thing but has never had the opportunity to say the right thing so he’s very bad at it,” Johnston says. “He has no idea what he’s doing. I like the idea that they really do like each other a lot and they have several really good connections but they  haven’t spent enough time with each other to sort of unpack the differences in the way they grew up, which even throughout the Clone Wars is a pretty big stumbling block. I really like that aspect of their relationship and it’s all in that one conversation. Sand is terrible and it’s this wonderful example of the class difference between them because for her sand is the beach and a holiday. For him, sand is a reminder that he grew up owned.”

Padme and Panaka in the decoy maneuver.

5. The dream team of Padmé and Panaka. There’s a moment towards the end of The Phantom Menace, “when they’re having their standoff in the throne room and Sabé comes in and all the Neimoidians turn around,” Johnston says. “And without talking about it, Padmé and Panaka both go for the guns in the throne. I love that moment. The whole reason the decoy maneuver exists is distilled into that moment and it’s perfect.”

The cover for Star Wars: Queen's Shadow.

6. Johnston’s own decoy scene in Queen’s Shadow. “There is a scene in the book where they have to switch places and it’s at a party and it has to be Padmé on the way in because she has to pass the facial scanner. Then they have to switch to Sabé at the party so that Padmé can go and see something that she has to see with her own eyes. She has to read body language,” Johnston says. “And while she is up in a tree spying on some people, she realizes she has to get back downstairs and back into the queen’s outfit immediately. The whole scene from there until the end when she trips over Bail Organa is my favorite part of the book.”

In fact, Johnston spent a lot of time considering the logistics of Padmé’s sprawling wardrobe as she was writing. “I basically built the whole book around her wardrobe and the developments that Dormé makes to it when she takes over. Not only did they have to change it aesthetically to make her look more like a senator and less like a queen, but it has to be a little bit less formal. With her queen stuff, there’s a physical difference; you can’t get close to her because her skirt goes out too far. And so her senator outfits have to be more accessible. She has to make friends and so I did think a lot about he actual mechanics of her wardrobe and what stuff is made of and how things function. A lot of it is at the very least fireproof and sort of reinforced for blaster fire,” Johnston says, including dresses with trap doors for ease of escape, fancy-looking shoes that are ready to run in, and multifunctional jewelry. “She has hair pins that are lock picks in Attack of the Clones, so I basically just took that and wrote a book about it. Anything that anyone has ever made fun of a girl for doing is exploited by the handmaidens because they are small and they disappear. They’re really good with fabric and blasters and all that. So it was fun to take all those things that are super girly and make them 1) super important to the plot and 2) very, very useful without taking away any of their prettiness, which was also deeply important to me.”

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Author E.K. Johnston’s 6 Favorite Padmé Moments

How Fear is the Path to Hope in Star Wars

StarWars.com

Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” Yoda, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

The underlying foundation of the Star Wars saga is defined by one single yet enormously important word: hope. Yet it’s often fear that propels the struggle to cling to hope, a hope running throughout almost every moment of Star Wars no matter how big or small.

Luke Skywalker stands alone on Ahch-To.

It’s fear that pushes Luke into self-imposed exile on Ahch-To, cutting himself off from the Force, after his failure to help Ben Solo, now Kylo Ren.

It’s the fear of losing his mother that nudges Anakin Skywalker down his path of self-destruction, fear that stokes his desire for Padmé and, in the end, fear of losing Padmé that costs him the love of his life, unleashing a plague of darkness on an unsuspecting galaxy.

It’s fear of discovery that drives Caleb Dume to abandon his identity and adopt a new life and name, Kanan Jarrus, in the aftermath of Order 66.

“I think fear is both an overt and underlying current in a lot of Star Wars storytelling,” says Charles Soule, author of several Marvel Star Wars comics, including the second volume of Darth Vader. “Even from the earliest days of the prequel trilogy, you hear Yoda talking about what fear leads to.”

Anakin comforts Padme. Darth Vader's mask is lowered for the first time.

Darth Vader, the living embodiment of fear for his enemies, is not so much guided by the emotion, but cursed by it. “Certainly his journey from Anakin to Darth Vader is about fear of losing control of himself, control of his life, losing Padmé– which obviously happens — and then after all that happens, it’s fear of facing up to what he’s done,” Soule says. “Vader … is strongly governed by fear and he’s supposed to be the cautionary tale of what fear will do to you if you give into it.”

No matter how you define fear — be it the modern definition of an unpleasant emotional response to a perceived danger or the ancient and archaic mix of dread and reverence — it’s a living, breathing part of Star Wars, paramount to all other emotions within the saga save, perhaps, for hope.

Fear, in the real world and the Star Wars universe, too, is immutable and immortal, a natural reaction in almost all living things to something they can’t understand, and an ever-present part of the Force, too. You can’t have Star Wars without fear. You can’t have tales of courage and valor or despair and dishonor, either.

Owen Lars feared for Luke Skywalker were he to discover his true history and lineage. Beru Lars feared for Luke’s hopes for the future. Old Ben Kenobi, he wasn’t to be trusted, always getting in the way, putting the Lars family at risk with his scattered involvement.

Obi-Wan Kenobi fights Maul for the last time.

For Obi-Wan Kenobi, his greatest fear was losing Luke, failing in his mandate to keep him safely ensconced away from prying eyes, loose lips and the omnipresent malevolence of not just Darth Vader but Darth Sidious. That fear drove Kenobi to endure years of a solitary life, punctuated by brief yet startling confrontations with Tusken Raiders and, of course, a final showdown with Darth Maul.

Fear is one of the strongest factors which propel the stories in Star Wars, no matter the era or the medium.

In A New Hope, Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin and the Empire embrace fear while wielding what is believed to be the ultimate threat and power. “Fear will keep the local systems in line,” he tells his officers. “Fear of this battle station.”

Captain Phasma leads First Order troops in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Delilah S. Dawson, author of Star Wars: Phasma, showed how the fierce warrior made her way into the embrace of the First Order. Was it fear of losing that prestige and power and position that kept her motivated?

“Whether we fear dying, suffering, losing someone we love, or becoming something we dread, every character’s motivation is rooted in fear,” Dawson says. “For Phasma, she wouldn’t personally consider her primary motivation to be fear, and yet her life is dedicated to survival, which is basically the flip side of the coin of death. Outside of not wanting to die, she doesn’t want to go without again, to be hungry again, to have to make the tough choices that come with life on Parnassos. Of course the First Order and their promises of order and plenty would appeal to her.”

In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Jyn Erso beats back her apathy and fear of involvement to join with Cassian Andor and his team to not just find her father, but to steal the Death Star plans.

For those watching the films and television shows, for readers devouring page after page of novels and comics, playing the video games, the fear that our avatars within Star Wars experience is amplified, reflected even, upon us.

Luke Skywalker in the cave on Dagobah.

Consider Luke’s brush with the dark side in the cave as shown in The Empire Strikes Back. Sitting in a darkened theater, surprised by the sudden appearance of Darth Vader only to see Luke’s face within the cracked-open helmet, the image jarred audiences in 1980 and continues to shock in 2018.

Cavan Scott, author of some of IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Adventures and the recent five-issue miniseries Tales from Vader’s Castle, is using fear to drive the story, jumping from era to era and focusing on how it can affect characters’ motives and determination. Yet fear cannot exist without hope, he says.

“They have to coexist in a story otherwise there is no conflict and therefore no momentum. It’s fear that drives the story forward, fear that if you stop the bad guys will win, that you will lose those who are important to you and, often in Star Wars, that you will lose yourself,” he says. “But, for me, one of the greatest truths in Star Wars is that, no matter how scary a situation or a foe, whether it’s a giant monster or facing down an entire Imperial fleet, you are not helpless if you have each other. We need our heroes to face seemingly insurmountable odds for us to show that they gain strength — and hope — from each other.”

The cover of Tales from Vader's Castle #5.

Writing an all-age Star Wars comic that’s focused on scary events has some boundaries, but as Scott notes, “kids love to be scared.”

Still, there is a balance to be maintained, too.

For Scott, it provides a fulcrum on which to use differing levels of fear to tell a story that adults will find creepy and unsettling, yet without sending kids screaming from the room.

“Obviously, you have to be responsible and not push things as far as you would in a tale for adults. Also, with kids you can use humor to counterpoint the scares and ease the tension if need be,” he said. “And, as we’ve seen time and time again, humor and horror go hand-in-hand. Just look around the theater next time you see a horror movie. I can guarantee the audience will jump at a scare and then laugh, some of them nervously, of course, but it’s a laugh all the same.”

Much like Star Wars, where humor and being scared are often present together.

Ultimately, fear can be both an ally and enemy, in our everyday lives and in a galaxy far far away.

“I think fear is one of our most primal and important emotions. I think it drives us to do a lot of things and make a lot of choices, make a lot off decisions,” says Soule. “It keeps us away from things and pushes us toward things.”

Matt Moore is a writer and editor and co-creator/co-host of Comics With Kenobi, a weekly podcast detailing and discussing contemporary Star Wars comics from Marvel and IDW Publishing and their role in advancing the Star Wars saga.

How Fear is the Path to Hope in Star Wars