Sabé Explained: Keira Knightley’s Star Wars Role Was More Than Padmé’s Handmaiden

Summary

  • Keira Knightly played Sabé in Star Wars, Padmé Amidala’s primary decoy who played a crucial role in protecting and serving her queen, even posing as Padmé during the blockade of Naboo as seen in The Phantom Menace.
  • Sabé tried to free Anakin’s mother at Padmé’s request but couldn’t locate her, as she became involved in Padmé’s efforts beyond the duties of a decoy.
  • Sabé’s journey took a dark turn following Padmé’s death, such as forming the Amidalans, joining Crimson Dawn, and later learning Darth Vader’s true identity, which led to her attempts to redeem Anakin Skywalker and bring him back to the light.



Keira Knightly’s Star Wars character has a much bigger history than what’s seen in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace alone. In the established Star Wars timeline, Padmé Amidala’s handmaid Sabé did so much more beyond her initial role as the Queen of Naboo’s body double. To that end, Sabé’s journey in the Star Wars canon also spans much further than one era and also becomes quite dark as well.

Having first appeared in 1999’s The Phantom Menace, Sabé was played by actress Keira Knightly. While the first prequel film was her first and only live-action appearance, Sabé would appear in multiple novels and comics set in the official Star Wars canon timeline, continuing her story in the galaxy far, far away in some very exciting ways. Here’s a breakdown of Sabé’s full Star Wars history, covering the most important moments in her life (as well as what’s known about her ultimate fate).


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11 Sabé Was Padmé’s Primary Decoy

The Queen’s Shadow

Having been chosen by Naboo’s royal security forces due to her incredible likeness to the new Queen of Naboo, Sabé (formerly known as Tsabin) became the Queen’s Shadow. Joining a collection of handmaidens carefully handpicked to serve and protect Queen Padmé Amidala, Sabé and Padmé became very close friends and confidants. Over the years, Sabé was willing to lay down her life for her queen, putting her own needs and desires aside for the sake of Padmé’s well-being.


Sabé’s service as the Queen’s Shadow notably included posing as Amidala during the Trade Federation’s blockade of Naboo as seen in The Phantom Menace. Sabé would continue playing the part of Padmé until Padmé herself gave up the charade to gain the trust and support of the Gungans before the Battle of Naboo. In the years that followed, Sabé would continue serving Padmé even after Amidala stepped down from Naboo’s throne and became a senator representing their homeworld in the Republic.

10 Sabé Tried To Free Anakin’s Mother Shmi

Even the Jedi never went back for her


When Padmé became Naboo’s senator, Sabé’s role grew beyond serving as a decoy. Having witnessed the grim truth of the planet Tatooine and its slave trade during The Phantom Menace, Padmé tasked Sabé with returning to the desert world to buy and relocate several slaves off-world, giving them their freedom and helping them start their own colony. Although Padmé particularly wanted to buy the freedom of Anakin Skywalker’s mother Shmi, Sabé was unable to find her as she had since moved from Mos Espa, becoming a part of the Lars family near the city of Mos Eisley.

9 Sabé Knew About Anakin and Padmé

She protected Padmé’s secrets


During the Clone Wars, Sabé agreed to temporarily serve as Padmé body double once more as seen in the novel Queen’s Hope by E.K. Johnston. However, it was during this time that Sabé discovered Padmé’s romantic involvement with Anakin Skywalker when he attempted to sneak into Padmé’s apartment on Coruscant to be with his secret wife, only to find Sabé instead. However, Sabé elected to keep their secret safe, telling no one of the hidden marriage.

8 Sabé Created The Amidalans Following Padmé’s Death

A group dedicated to Padmé and avenging her memory


Heartbroken over Padmé’s death and determined to investigate what had happened to her, Sabé and her fellow handmaids founded the Amidalans, an order dedicated to Padmé’s memory. This order included Padmé’s head of security Captain Typho as well as Ric Olié who had been the pilot of Padmé’s royal cruiser during The Phantom Menace. Because Typho had last seen Padmé headed for Mustafar, it was deduced by the Amidalans that Darth Vader was responsible for both Padmé and Anakin Skywalker’s deaths as the Dark Lord of the Sith had built his fortress on the very same world.

However, several of the Amidalans lost their lives once they faced Darth Vader. As seen in Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco’s ongoing Darth Vader comic series, the Dark Lord returns to Naboo during his investigation into his late wife’s death and the birth of his son Luke following the events of The Empire Strikes Back. However, not all the Amidalans fell to Vader’s wrath.

7 Sabé Faced Darth Vader After Empire Strikes Back

Vader initially mistook her for Padmé

Vader vs Sabé and Amidalans


Vader’s confrontation with the Amidalans was all part of an elaborate trap set up by Sabé herself shortly after The Empire Strikes Back. Feigning an alliance with the desire to learn more about Padmé’s death as well, Sabé lured Vader to Naboo in the hopes of killing the Dark Lord with help from the Amidalans and her fellow handmaids. However, Sabé and her sisters were the few survivors of the battle against Vader, no doubt due to their likeness to Padmé (and Sabé most of all).

6 Sabé Joined Crimson Dawn

The crime syndicate from Solo: A Star Wars Story


Seeking new means of tracking down and defeating Vader, Sabé briefly joins Crimson Dawn, the major crime syndicate founded by Darth Maul and later taken over by Lady Qi’ra during the original trilogy. However, Sabé was far from a loyal member, as she was only using Crimson Dawn’s connections to sow chaos among the Empire during her hunt for the Dark Lord of the Sith. To that end, Sabé eventually found the medical facility on Polis Massa where Padmé gave birth and later died. This would lead to a much darker path for Sabé beyond working for a crime syndicate.

5 Sabé Learned Darth Vader’s True Identity

Most who knew Vader’s secret didn’t live long after

Sabe Reveals Darth Vader's True Identity


Finding the same damaged and partial recording Vader had previously discovered in Pak and Ienco’s Darth Vader series, Sabé learned that Darth Vader was once Anakin Skywalker. Armed with this shocking revelation, Sabé went in search of the Dark Lord of the Sith, albeit with a brand-new mission due to Padmé’s final words. With Padmé having died in her belief that there was still good in her corrupted husband, Sabé committed herself to prove the former Queen of Naboo right.

4 Sabé Tried To Redeem Anakin Skywalker Before Return of the Jedi

Setting the stage for Luke to redeem his father

Sabe and Darth Vader Redemption

Once Sabé found Vader, she began trying to bring him back to the light in the months preceding Return of the Jedi. Remarkably, Sabé was able to speak to and challenge Vader as no one else could even dream of doing (without being subsequently Force-choked to death). She even openly called him “Anakin” while convincing Vader to help her rescue former Tatooine slaves she’d freed who were being oppressed by an Imperial leader secretly in league with Crimson Dawn. Essentially, Sabé used both the memory of Vader’s late mother and wife in a daring bid to redeem the Sith lord.


3 Sabé Became Vader’s Shadow

Serving Vader as she once did Padmé

While Sabé’s efforts certainly unbalanced Vader and perhaps set the stage for Luke to redeem his father in Return of the Jedi, they weren’t as successful in the present as she would have hoped. For all the light Sabé was trying to impress upon Vader, the Dark Lord impressed the dark side upon her, so much so that she was convinced to serve him in the name of order and was even permitted to become Vader’s Shadow by Emperor Palpatine himself. Vader and Sabé’s common ground was galactic order, though Sabé began compromising herself to remain by Vader’s side.


2 Sabé Chose Vader Over Her Fellow Handmaids

Following Vader’s path of betrayal

Sabe Chooses Darth Vader Over Handmaids

Unwilling to believe that Sabé would ever willingly serve Darth Vader, Padmé’s other handmaids tried saving their sister and fellow Amidalan. However, they too faced the temptation of darkness with Vader also offering them places by his side when Sabé was captured by an enemy force. Ultimately, Sabé chose to stay with Vader even after she was saved by the handmaids, believing that only she needed to lose her soul, a decision she hoped would in turn allow her sisters to live their lives free of darkness.

1 Sabé Refused To Hate Like Darth Vader (Her Final Fate Is Unknown)

She let go of hate when Vader could not

Vader vs Sabe in Darth Vader Star Wars Comic


Ultimately, a major disturbance in the Force resulted in Sabé having to make a critical decision. Thanks to a Force Wave caused by the events of the Hidden Empire crossover event, Vader’s hate and power in the Force destructively grew beyond his control, so much so that he was unable to keep Sabé safe unless she truly joined him in his hatred. Likewise, Sabé experienced a vision of her future if she fully committed to Vader and the Imperial cause in the name of order.

Sabé ultimately refused to hate, rejecting the power it offered. However, it was a decision that saw Vader inadvertently flinging her into the ocean due to his unstable Force powers. As a result, Sabé’s ultimate fate is somewhat ambiguous in the Star Wars timeline, though Vader did leave the unnamed planet to regain control over his powers. This seemingly suggests that the Dark Lord himself believed Sabé died in her refusal to hate as he did. At any rate, it’s quite impressive that Sabé accomplished so much beyond her single live-action appearance played by Keira Knightly in The Phantom Menace.