Continuing our series celebrating the 20th anniversary of Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, Fantha Tracks turn the spotlight on the planet of Naboo and its people. In this first part we focus on the humans of the city of Theed.
Please note that in this article, both canon and Legends names are used. Some background characters might never be named again in canon since it took decades to name some of them. Chances are also small that any of the names that are still Legends would be named differently in canon.
Queen & Handmaidens
A list like this has to start with the one we all know and who rules the planet of Naboo during the invasion: Queen Amidala. Born as Padmé Naberrie to Ruwee (father) and Jobal (mother), she also had an older sister named Sola. At an early age it became clear that Padmé was destined for more than the modest origin of her parents. Intelligent and caring, she devoted her life in public service. This started with her joining the Apprentice Legislators, which led to her participating in the Legislative Youth Program and her career in politics. When she was elected (at the age of 14) she was not the youngest queen ever elected, and adopted the name Amidala for her term of office. A longstanding tradition of the planet Naboo was the use of handmaidens for every queen. These handmaidens act like aides to the queen, assisting the queen in her daily tasks. To also serve as bodyguards and decoys, they were highly trained and selected based on looking alike to the queen they serve.
The novel Queen’s Shadow revealed that as part of their service all the handmaidens changed their names like Padmé had done also. Padmé had several handmaidens throughout the movies and the ones that can be seen in The Phantom Menace are: Rabé (portrayed by Cristina da Silva. It was Rabé who did the make-up to disguise Sabé as the Queen when the invasion started), Saché (portrayed by Sofia Coppola, daughter of the well-known director (and good friend of George Lucas) Francis Ford Coppola. It was Saché who did the hair to disguise Sabé as the Queen when the invasion started), Eirtaé (portrayed by Liz Wilson and the only blonde with blue eyes despite them having to look similar), Fé (a cameo of art department supervisor Fay David, who also was a stand-in for Shaak Ti in Attack of the Clones and Luminara Unduli in Revenge of the Sith), Yané (portrayed by Candice Orwell, Yané was the youngest of the handmaidens and also a musician) and of course the most well-known one: Sabé (original name: Tsabin), who was portrayed by Keira Knightley. Knightley looked so much like Natalie Portman that even Portman’s mother apparently could not keep the two apart while Portman and Knightley were in costume and make-up.
Royal Advisory Council
To help the Monarch of Naboo rule the planet and to assist in day-to-day affairs, a group of advisors were put together in a Royal Advisory Council. These ministers were led by the planet’s governor. During the invasion of Naboo this was Sio Bibble. Elected governor during the reign of Ars Veruna, who was the king before Padmé, Bibble was at first skeptical of the young woman who took over, but eventually became her strongest supporter. When the queen was forced to flee the planet, Sio Bibble stayed behind to protect their people. Bibble sported quite a different look, with a bald head and a very pointy beard, in the original drawings of Iain McCaig before Oliver Ford Davies was cast into the role. The name was thought of by Katie Lucas. Graf Zapalo was Naboo’s Master of Sciences with the responsibility to oversee the study and distribution of the plasma that the Naboo use as an energy source. Graf Zapalo was portrayed by Sacha Tarter and, besides Sio Bibble, the only one from the Advisory Council to return for Attack of the Clones.
Naboo is a planet that highly values culture and even has special ministers to support this. One of these was Hela Brandes, who as Music Advisor was responsible for Naboo’s festivals and its musicians. Another minister important to Naboo’s culture was Hugo Eckener, who was the Chief Architect. He had to guard and protect the history and art of the planet while still expanding the cities. Before joining the Royal Advisory Council, Lufta Shif was a much respected teacher who even taught Padmé when she attended Theed University. Thanks to her experiences as a teacher Shif was made Education Regent, responsible for everything education related on the planet. Political and Economic advisor Horace Vancil received his name thanks to Decipher’s CCG and was named by Joseph Alreed, who was responsible for naming the cards. Alreed took the last name Vacil from a friend of his. During the scene with the Royal Advisory Council in the beginning of the movie two as of yet unnamed characters can be seen. This bushy-bearded man and woman stand behind the Council members which could imply that they are maybe not Council members but their assistants or something like that. They were however photographed for costume reference shots alongside the other Council members.
Royal Naboo Security Forces & Naboo Royal Space Fighter Corps
Even a peaceful world like Naboo needs brave men and women to police their planet, as well as protect its monarch. These volunteers can join one of the three possible corps: the Palace Guard (to protect the queen and palace), the Security Guard (police forces), and the Naboo Royal Space Fighter Corps.
Quarsh Panaka (portrayed by Hugh Quarshie) was the Head of Security and in charge of all the various branches of the Royal Naboo Security Forces. For a long while not much was known about Panaka besides the fact that he had a nephew named Gregar Typho (who we saw in Episode II) and that later in his life he became a Moff, gifting a statue to Emperor Palpatine that the Emperor kept in his private quarters onboard the second Death Star. This changed when in 2012 The Essential Guide to Warfare finally revealed his first name to be Quarsh. Even more recently Claudia Grey’s novel Queen’s Shadow revealed that Panaka was married to Mariek, who was also related to Versé, a handmaiden we saw getting blown up in the beginning of Attack of the Clones.
Palace Guard members include: Baras Perosei (who was freed from Camp Four in time to join the battle), Chamberlyn (who was one of the resistance leaders and responsible for analyzing the battledroids for weaknesses), Cid Rushing (portrayed by Roman Coppola, the name Cid was given as a response to the Final Fantasy franchise naming several of their characters after characters from Star Wars), Hogan Tinmar (This character originated in The Clone Wars but was retconned into appearing in The Phantom Menace in Insider’s Rogues Gallery feature), Jenn Smeel (who would later join the Empire and became one of Crix Madine’s storm commandos) and Jerus Jannick (who was portrayed by Dominic West).
There are still a couple of unnamed guards fighting in the palace, and among them is a cameo appearance by Ray Park. Who of course, as Darth Maul was also fighting the Jedi at the same time.
Security Guard members include: Danzal Galak Sr. (father of a son who was a soldier also) and Tobias Pall (who was ambushed in the Naboo swamps by STAPs, but survived whereas his other officers did not).
Like Panaka is the most important person leading the ground forces, the most important person for the Naboo Royal Space Fighter Corps was Ric Olié. Not only was he the main pilot to fly the Queen’s royal starship, he also led Alpha and Echo Flights, alongside Bravo Squadron. During the battle for Naboo he flew with the green-white astromech R2-A6. Ric Olié was portrayed by Ralph Brown. Bravo Squadron consisted of: Porro Dolphe (Bravo Two – Portrayed by Benedict Taylor, the adoptive brother of Femi Taylor who played Oola in Return of the Jedi), Arven Wendik (Bravo Three – Portrayed by Clarence Smith), Rya Kirsch (Bravo Four – ILM Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll in a cameo), Dineé Ellberger (Bravo Five – Portrayed by Celia Imrie, who originally auditioned for the role of Shmi Skywalker) and Gavyn Sykes (Bravo Six – Portrayed by Christian Simpson, who was filmed in the cockpit as well, but those scenes ended up being deleted.
Bravo Squadron will be getting their own article later this year.
Support crew: Bernie & Simon Jabesq are the infamous red and yellow Naboo soldiers from the Hasbro action figure line. This is a bit of a misnomer actually considering that they are engineers. Their first names came from the futhork alphabet that was stenciled on their helmets in promotional pictures (and on their action figures), while they received their last name in The Phantom Menace: The Expanded Visual Dictionary. Aboard the Queen’s ship we see multiple astromech droids in the repair pool, those were: R2-B1 (the blue, white and yellow colored one), R2-M5 (the white & red one), R2-N3 (the white and green one), R2-R9 (the red with white one that screamed when it got blasted off the hull) and G8-R3 (the yellow and white one and the only R5 model in the pool). Another astromech droid was R2-C4, who can be seen providing cover for Gavyn Sykes when he made his way to his N-1 starfighter. It is unsure however if this means that R2-C4 was also the droid Sykes flew with.
The final Theed citizen that worked for the Theed Royal Palace is Dams Denna. Denna was an animal trainer who took care of the beasts that the Gungans brought with them into Theed during the end celebration. He also helped untangle Jar Jar Binks when the hapless Gungan got stuck in the reigns of his Kaduu. Denna was played by Dan Madsen, who at the time was the publisher of Star Wars Insider. His character went unnamed until 2001 when Theed Palace Limited, an expansion to Deciphers card game, was released.
Not everybody that we saw in the movie was a part of the Royal Palace. A couple of unnamed Naboo noble men are seen standing on the stairs at the end of the movie (Cameos of producer Rick McCallum and editor Paul Martin Smith. They stand next to sound-wizard Ben Burtt, but his character is not a native of Naboo). An as yet unspotted in the movie itself, Naboo male played by former head of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm Ltd Steve Sansweet is also known to exist thanks to pictures released by Sansweet himself of his cameo. Another cameo is the character Rehtul Minnau, who was played by Nathan Hamill (indeed the son of…) and received his name in the What’s The Story entry for Teckla Minnau, as written by Evan Burger (alias: ShadowCultist). And to close off the list is a very minor character who only got named thanks to receiving a card in the SW CCG: Phylo Gandish, a female seen during the celebration and who according to her card is a retired pilot and a cunning business lady.
Join us next month for the second part showcasing the Gungans and local wildlife of the planet!
Sources: StarWars.com, Star Wars Customizable Card Game, Star Wars Character Encyclopedia, Ultimate Star Wars, Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, The Phantom Menace: The Expanded Visual Dictionary, The Essential Guide to Warfare, Leia: Princess of Alderaan, Queen’s Shadow and of course the movie itself.