Canon fodder

Luke Skywalkers' secret cousins could redefine Padmé’s role in Star Wars

Let's get some love for the Naberrie family.

Lucasfilm

If the Skywalker saga is really all about one family tree, it’s odd how little we know about all the branches. Star Wars debates about the Skywalker family tend to stay focused on the story of Anakin, his children, and his grandchildren. But did all those Force powers derive from Anakin along or was Padmé’s side of the family Force-sensitive too? The answer could lie in a little-known pocket of Star Wars canon.

Believe it or not, Luke and Leia had cousins, and while they’ve been mostly omitted from the Star Wars franchise, they were definitely around during the classic trilogy and maybe around during the sequel trilogy, too. So what’s up with the Naberrie wing of the Skywalker family? Why were they ignored? And what could they reveal?

Here’s who these Skywalker cousins are and why their existence could indicate some Force powers on Padmé’s side.

Who are the secret Skywalker cousins?

Haley Mooy as Pooja and Keira Wingate as Ryoo, from an Attack of the Clones promo shot.Lucasfilm

In a deleted scene from Attack of the Clones, it was revealed that Padmé Naberrie (Natalie Portman) had a sister, Sola Naberrie (Claudia Karvan). And in canon, Sola has at least one daughter, but possibly, two. Confused yet?

Well, because that Attack of the Clones deleted scene was deleted, that means Sola’s conversations with Padmé and part of the backstory of her two daughters is iffy when it comes to “real” Star Wars canon. (The same goes for Padmé’s tearful tale about an alien named “Sweetheart,” but that’s another story.) Even Disney+ doesn’t list this moment among the deleted scenes you can stream but does bizarrely include a lost scene where Anakin talks to Padmé’s father, Ruwee Naberrie.

So that means the two cousins, whose names are Pooja Naberrie and Ryoo Naberrie only appear in canon at the end of Revenge of the Sith, walking along next to Padmé’s body during her funeral. Ryoo is the canonical daughter of Sola and was nine years old during her aunt's funeral. Meanwhile, Pooja was even younger, only about six in Sith.

Wookieepedia stops short of listing Pooja as Sola’s child but does identify Padmé as her Aunt. Non-canon material — mostly arising from a 2007 book called Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force — claims Pooja is totally Sola’s other daughter. In that book, we learn that as an adult, Pooja Naberrie, became a member of the Imperial Senate, just like her cousin Leia. However, it wasn’t until after Return of the Jedi that Pooja and Leia even figured this out.

To be clear, just because Pooja didn’t sense Leia doesn’t mean she might not have had some kind of latent Force powers. Leia was raised without any knowledge of her heritage and only began to tap into her Force potential in her early twenties. The point is, just because certain Senators — either from Alderaan or Naboo — don’t have overt Force sensitivity, it doesn’t follow that they don’t have the potential to tap into the Force. Just as Leia had latent Force powers, so could have Padmé. Which would also maybe be true for her nieces.

Oddly, none of that backstory with Pooja is canon, so her status as Leia’s cousin is doubly obscured. In terms of recent canon, E. K. Johnston’s novel Queen’s Shadow established that Sola Naberrie (Padmé’s sister, mother of these cousins) was not married. In fact, Johnston’s books make it clear that Sola is asexual and aromantic. Queen’s Shadow and its sequels double-down the fact that Ryoo Naberrie is Sola’s daughter, which leaves Pooja’s status a bit murky.

Padme’s funeral in Revenge of the Sith was attended by her family. What happened to them later?Lucasfilm

Are the Skywalker cousins Force-sensitive?

In both Legends canon and “real” canon, mentions of the Naberrie family are rare. In fact, even serious Star Wars fans might not even know that the name “Amidala” is an assumed name and not part of Padmé’s heritage, but rather, her political career. Like the origins of the “Solo” family, the Naberries are crucial to the story of the Skywalker family, but, the details are either nonexistent or overlooked.

But, there’s one kind of obvious question: Are the Naberries Force-sensitive? In other words, did Padmé’s family contribute to the Skywalker cocktail of Jedi amazingness?

The short answer is: we don’t know. There’s little in canon to indicate that Padmé’ herself had a high midi-chlorian count or Jedi potential. Then again, there’s also not much that indicates Shmi Skywalker was strong with the Force either, and she was Anakin’s mom! The point is, both of these characters have children who have amazingly high midi-chlorian counts and possessed massive Jedi potential.

Is Padmé Force-senstive?

Could Padmé have had her own lightsaber?Lucasfilm

Most fans casually assume that Luke and Leia’s Force mojo comes from their father, but what if it came from Padmé’s side of the family, too? In Revenge of the Sith, Padmé seems to “feel” everything happening to Anakin, to the point that some fans believe this proves she’s Force-sensitive. And if that’s true, then it would follow that Padmé’s sister and her sister’s kids were Force-sensitive, too.

Throughout the prequels and The Clone Wars, Padmé is able to navigate complex political situations, as well as spycraft, expertly. Her instincts as a leader and a politician were savvy and forward-thinking. She was good at her various jobs and had a great deal of empathy. All of these qualities could be retroactively ascribed to a Jedi. Not all awesome characters in Star Wars have to be Force-sensitive, but because Padmé was such an exceptional person and the mother of Luke and Leia, you really have to wonder.

Pooja and Ruwee are close enough in age to Luke and Leia that it’s reasonable they’d be alive during the events of the sequel trilogy. It’s also possible they themselves could have adult children at that time, some who might even have fought for the Resistance — or the First Order. Either way, the fact that the Solo-Skywalker clan has such close living relatives, hiding in the shadows, is fascinating.

If some future TV series, book, or comic were to explore the secrets (or future) of the Skywalker story, the true phantom menace — or phantom hope — might not come from someone named Solo or Skywalker, but instead, carries the all-important last name of Naberrie. Who knows, maybe some of these cousins are even friendly with a certain Tatooine desert hermit who once went by the name of Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan Kenobi premieres May 27 on Disney+.