Nute Gunray is a fictional character and supporting villain from the Star Wars universe, played by Silas Carson in the films, and comedian Tom Kenny in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Gunray is a Neimoidian
, an amphibian
-faced humanoid with snake
-like eyes, and an enemy of the Galactic Republic
. In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
, Gunray and his organization, the Trade Federation
, appear to be the movie's primary villains, but it is made clear early on to the audience (although not to the movie's characters) that the real antagonist is the Sith Lord Darth Sidious
). Aside from Sidious, he is the only villain to appear in all three films of the prequel trilogy
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
, Gunray blockades
the planet Naboo
from trade routes
. The Republic's Chancellor Finis Valorum
) dispatches two ambassadors to talk with Gunray aboard the Droid Control Ship Profiteer
, and he is shocked to discover that the ambassadors are in fact the Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi
) and Qui-Gon Jinn
). He swiftly contacts Sidious, at which point Dofine dares express his concerns about the plan. Sidious orders that Dofine be kept out of his sight, and Gunray ushers him off the bridge.
Sidious tells Gunray to kill the Jedi, and Gunray destroys their ship and release toxic gas into the conference chamber. The two Jedi escape, but Gunray decides to keep this secret from Sidious for the time being, as he is concerned over how the Republic will respond to their idea of actually invading Naboo. Sidious assures the Viceroy he will make it legal. Gunray meets with Naboo's Queen, Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), and denies he knows anything of any ambassadors. Gunray orders the droid OOM-9 to find the Jedi, but the droids fail. The invasion is well-organized, and the planet is conquered within the day. Gunray and Haako enter Theed with their troops and Gunray receives word that they have captured the Queen. Gunray proudly proclaims victory and marches into the palace.
The outraged Governor Sio Bibble demands that Gunray explain this invasion to the Senate, to which Gunray replies he and the Queen will a sign a treaty to legitimise the occupation. The Queen refuses, but Gunray is not impressed, informing her that the suffering of her people will persuade her to give in. The Queen is marched off to a detention camp, but on her way is rescued by Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, who get her off the planet and past the blockade. Gunray is now forced to inform Sidious, who dispatches his apprentice Darth Maul (Ray Park) to kill the Queen.
Gunray quickly secures the planet, with only the native Gungans eluding him. He sets himself up in the Queen's palace in Theed, taunting Bibble from his mechno-throne. He soon grows tired of the Governor's protests, however, and informs him he will die much sooner than his people. After unsuccessfully pleading for intervention by the Old Republic Senate, the Queen calls for the expulsion of Chancellor Valorum, who cannot outtalk Senator Lott Dod. Naboo's own Senator, Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), is elected the new Chancellor; unknown to the Trade Federation, Palpatine is in fact Sidious' civilian alter ego, and is manipulating them as part of his plan to dominate the galaxy.
Gunray reports his success to Sidious, who tells the Viceroy that Darth Maul is coming to join him. As Maul arrives, Gunray detects the Queen's ship and tracks it to the swamps on Naboo. Gunray next detects the assembled army of Gungans in the swamps and dispatches OOM-9 and a large majority of his army to crush them, dismissing them as primitives.
Gunray remains in the throne room with Haako and Maul, and Maul leaves to deal with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon as Gunray becomes concerned the battle is taking place far too close to him. The Queen works her way into the palace, before being captured and marched before the Viceroy. Gunray orders her to sign the treaty, but the Queen's disguised handmaiden appeared, confusing him. He orders his droids after the decoy, believing her to be the real Queen. The real Queen uses the distraction to take out Gunray's guards and hold him and Haako at gunpoint. Gunray is not worried at first, because he thinks his droids would break through to rescue him. His hopes of rescue are shattered, however, when a young boy named Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) destroys the droid control ship Profiteer, deactivating his army. With his forces destroyed and Maul dead, Gunray and Haako are arrested and sent back to Coruscant to stand trial for their crimes.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
, it is revealed that after four trials in the Republic Supreme Court, Gunray still maintains control over the Trade Federation. Gunray, feeling betrayed by Sidious, goes to former Jedi Master Count Dooku
), who advises him to join the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Little knowing that Sidious is the mastermind behind the Confederacy and that Dooku is secretly a Sith Lord himself, Gunray seeks to combine the Trade Federation's droid armies with those of the Techno Union in order to strong-arm smaller star systems
into supporting the Confederacy.
Still bearing a grudge against the former Queen of Naboo, he stipulates he will not sign Dooku's treaty unless Dooku agrees to have her killed. To this end, Dooku hires the bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison). The assassination attempt fails, however. Gunray goes to Geonosis with Rune Haako and several other Separatists to oversee the production of the droid army. There, Gunray finally gets his chance at revenge when Padmé and the teenaged Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) are captured by the Geonosians while trying to rescue the captive Obi-Wan Kenobi. Along with Dooku, Jango Fett, Jango's son Boba (Daniel Logan), and Poggle the Lesser, Gunray and Haako sit back in a private viewing to watch the former queen and the two Jedi be sentenced to death in the Geonosian execution arena.
Padmé escapes once again, however, despite the Viceroy's repeated demands that someone "shoot her... or something!" Shortly thereafter, a large force of Jedi arrive to rescue their friends. Throughout the ensuing skirmish between the Jedi and the Separatists' droid legions in the execution arena, Gunray remains in the viewing box. At one point he and Haako are almost killed when C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), whose head has accidentally been attached to the body of a battle droid, fires on them from the area below. They barely avoid the blaster-fire. When Yoda (Frank Oz) arrives with an army of clone troopers, Gunray and Haako retreat with Dooku to the underground war room. As the situation worsens and the Republic's forces cut off the Separatists' communications, Gunray initially demands that Dooku send all available droids into battle. Then, at Haako's insistence, the Viceroy flees Geonosis altogether. After giving the order for all Trade Federation starships to retreat, Gunray and Haako scurry aboard their shuttle and fly from the battle.
The Clone Wars have begun, and Gunray suddenly finds himself preparing his droids for war. He eventually discovers that Darth Sidious is in fact the secret leader of the Confederacy.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
, Gunray finds himself at odds with the droid army leader General Grievous
). Gunray dares to question Grievous' leadership, but his concerns fall on deaf
ears. Both Dooku and Grievous are eventually killed, leaving the Confederacy floundering. Sidious contacts Gunray and the other Separatist leaders in their new hidden base on Mustafar
and orders them to await Sidious' new apprentice, Darth Vader
, who arrives under the pretense of negotiating for peace. Gunray welcomes Vader — only to realize that the young Sith Lord is in fact Anakin Skywalker, and has come to tie up Sidious' loose ends by killing them all. Gunray is left to watch his fellow council members slaughtered one by one, including his comrade Haako. Gunray attempts to reason with Vader, saying that all the Separatists want is peace, but Vader cuts him down before he can finish talking.
In deleted scene
from Attack of the Clones
in which Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala are put on trial by the Geonosians, Gunray watches from the side. When the trial goes on too long he shouts to Poggle the Lesser, "Get on with it, carry out the sentence, I want to see her Die!" Poggle the Lesser quickly wraps up the trial and orders his guards to take them to the execution arena.
A scene cut from Revenge of the Sith shows Gunray and Haako hiding under a table as Vader slaughters the Separatist Council. Haako panics and tries to escape, but is quickly killed by Vader, as seen in the film. Gunray stays hidden. As Vader kills the others, Gunray quickly gets out from under the table and activates the control panel for the doors to open, ushering in destroyer droids, which open fire on Vader. Gunray watches as the smoke clears and Vader is gone. Vader then drops down from the roof and destroys the droids, jumping over to Gunray.
Cloak of Deception
In the novel Cloak of Deception
, the Nebula Front, a terrorist
group opposed to the Federation's exclusive access to the Free Trade Zones
, conducts a series of attacks on Trade Federation vessels. By this point, Gunray has already gone into business with Sidious, who tells him that the attacks on the Federation will allow them to increase their security forces. Gunray and his associates visit the Baktoid factories to acquire even more powerful weapons, including destroyer droids
Though Gunray's associates Rune Haako and Daultay Dofine are shocked at the idea, he assures them these new weapons will keep them safe. Sidious often shows his disdain for Haako and Dofine, referring to them as "underlings" who fail to grasp the bigger picture. When Gunray attends the trade summit on Eriadu with Senator Lott Dod, he is called away just in time for the Nebula Front to launch an attack which destroyed the remainder of the Trade Federation Directorate. Gunray is surprised at Sidious' unsubtle move, but pleased with the outcome.
Gunray is now Viceroy of the entire Trade Federation, and makes it a Nemoidian-dominated organization. The first crisis Gunray faces as head of the Federation is Chancellor Valorum's decision to impose a tax on trade routes throughout the galaxy. Sidious already has plans in mind, and advises Gunray to blockade Naboo in protest, assuring the Viceroy that Valorum is weak and will not be able to act.
Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter
In the novel Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter
, Gunray's Deputy Viceroy, Hath Monchar, escapes with proof of Sidious' existence. Gunray lies to Sidious, saying Monchar is taken ill, and he and Rune Haako organize for a bounty hunter
named Mawhi Lhinn to track down Monchar. Sidious suspects Gunray of lying to him, and dispatches Darth Maul to kill Monchar before he can give anyone his information. Maul executes Monchar, and also kills Mawhi Lhinn. The incident terrifies Gunray, who realizes for the first time that he is dealing with a very dangerous man.
Labyrinth of Evil
In the novel Labyrinth of Evil
, Gunray returns to his home on Cato Neimoidia to plunder what wealth he can, while being pursued by his old enemies Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Gunray escapes, but his victory is shortlived when he realizes he has forgotten his prized Mechno Chair, which he uses to communicate with Darth Sidious and General Grievous. Grievous is furious when he discovers Gunray's mistakes, and barges into Gunray's quarters. His old friend Rune Haako
quickly abandons the Viceroy, and Grievous picks up Gunray by the throat and says he will be punished. However, Gunray remains unpunished, as Darth Sidious would allow no harm to come to him, and he is later sent to the planet Utapau
with the other Separatist leaders. When Grievous begins his attack on Coruscant
, Gunray begins to think he has underestimated the cyborg
general, and, for the first time during the war, he celebrates with his comrades.
The representation of Nute Gunray differs somewhat in the novelisations of the films. In The Phantom Menace novelisation
by Terry Brooks
, he is portrayed as a great deal braver than his film counterpart, standing his ground when held at gunpoint by Queen Amidala, and even standing up to Sidious, who accuses Gunray of defying him. In the novelisation of Revenge of the Sith
by Matthew Stover
, Gunray is described as treacherous, venal, and cowardly.
Nute Gunray appears in the Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
video game on both the first and final levels. The mission on the final level of the game is to capture Gunray while playing as Padmé Amidala, battling through Gunray's traps in the room until he finally surrenders. Gunray can be killed here, if the player shoots him quickly enough. He also appears in the strategy game Galactic Battlegrounds
his missions for the Trade Federation levels and the character is playable in the custom game section. Gunray also appears in the Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
video game, on the level 'Assassination on Mustafar', where he realizes Darth Sidious has betrayed him and dispatches security to kill Vader. When Vader reaches the control room, Gunray locks the other Separatist leaders in the conference room with the assassin, and escapes to his shuttle while they are killed, and he looks back fearfully as he hears Rune Haako's screams before getting on his ship. The player (as Vader) must then engage Gunray in a duel.
Nute Gunray, like his arch enemy Padmé Amidala, had a taste for fine clothing. In The Phantom Menace
he wears a crimson robe and tri cornered head-dress, in Attack of the Clones
he wears red robes and a slightly different head-dress. In Revenge of the Sith
he wears an orange robe with a turban like head-dress.
Following the release of "The Phantom Menace", some controversy arose over apparent racial stereotypes represented in the mannerisms and voices of Star Wars characters. While most of the complaints were focused on the Jar Jar Binks character as negatively portraying Jamaican Creole, complaints were also made concerning Nute Gunray and the Neimoidians negatively portraying Asian culture by associating what seem to be stereotypical Asian-English accents with the Neimoidian race, known for its greed, cowardice, and connection with the evil Trade Federation. However, some have argued that the Neimoidian accent does not consistently follow linguistic characteristics commonly found in any specific Asian language and that the effect instead arises from poor lip-synching with the animatronic costumes.