|Full Name||Natalie Hershlag|
|Birthday||June 9, 1981|
Natalie Portman is one of the most acclaimed and influential actresses of the past 25 years. As a fan who has followed her career since her blockbuster debut in Léon: The Professional, it has been incredible watching her evolve from a talented child star into an Academy Award-winning Hollywood icon.
Early Life and Career Beginnings
Born Neta-Lee Hershlag on June 9, 1981 in Jerusalem, Israel, Natalie displayed a passion for dance and theatre from a very young age. She began studying dance as a toddler, and caught the eye of a Revlon model scout at just 10 years old while she was eating pizza after a dance class. This scouting connection ultimately led to an audition for her career-making role in Léon: The Professional.
Portman‘s parents were initially hesitant about her acting, but agreed to let her take the role of Mathilda in the Luc Besson thriller opposite Jean Reno. To protect her privacy, she adopted the stage name Natalie Portman, inspired by a girl who rode horses near her home. Her outstanding performance as a 12-year-old girl learning the ways of a professional hitman after her family is murdered garnered her widespread acclaim, catapulting her acting career.
During her high school years in the late 90s, Portman carefully chose acting projects like Heat, Beautiful Girls and Everyone Says I Love You that wouldn‘t disrupt her academic studies. In 1999, she took a brief hiatus from acting to attend Harvard University. But she continued to play Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy during her summer breaks from school.
Dramatic Roles and Oscar Win
After earning a psychology degree from Harvard in 2003, Portman sought more serious adult roles to showcase her dramatic talents. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for Closer in 2004, in which she played a stripper opposite Jude Law and Julia Roberts. But her most acclaimed performance came in 2010‘s psychological thriller Black Swan.
As Nina Sayers, an unstable ballet dancer losing her grip on reality, Portman delivered a tour de force performance. She completely immersed herself in the dark and demanding role, losing 20 pounds to achieve the ballerina physique and training rigorously for months to master the intricate dance sequences.
Her phenomenal, Oscar-winning performance in Black Swan solidified her reputation as one of the most talented actresses of her time. She went on to earn another Best Actress nomination for her moving portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy in the 2016 biopic Jackie. To date, she remains one of only a handful of stars to win both the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for different performances.
Later Blockbuster Film Roles
While Portman impressed critics in serious dramas, she continued to appear in major blockbuster franchises as well. Most significantly, she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2011 as Jane Foster, the scientist love interest of Chris Hemsworth‘s titular God of Thunder. She reprised her role in the 2013 sequel Thor: The Dark World. Her pairing with Hemsworth made them one of Marvel‘s most beloved on-screen couples.
Portman also returned to her Star Wars roots in 2019, playing a brief but pivotal cameo as Padmé Amidala in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. She first brought the legendary character to life two decades prior as a teenager in the Star Wars prequels. Reprising this iconic role was a special treat for loyal fans of the epic space opera franchise.
In 2015, Portman expanded her repertoire by making her feature directorial debut with A Tale of Love and Darkness, adapted from the memoir by Amos Oz. She has continued to direct short films and music videos over the years between her acting projects.
While Portman keeps the details about her private world closely guarded, her personal life has remained quite stable in Hollywood terms. She met French choreographer Benjamin Millepied on the set of Black Swan, and the two married in 2012 after dating for several years. They have two children together, Aleph and Amalia.
Though she has lived in Los Angeles for years, Portman remains close to her Israeli roots. She visits family in Israel frequently with her husband and children, and told Jimmy Fallon that she plans to teach her kids Hebrew as their second language. She also keeps kosher dietary laws.
Why I Love Natalie Portman
As a fan for over 20 years, here are just some of the reasons I‘m endlessly impressed and inspired by Natalie Portman:
- Her one-of-a-kind acting range – she‘s equally adept at blockbusters and intense dramas
- Her intelligence – she graduated from Harvard while filming major movies!
- Her director‘s eye – her directorial debut was a complex and beautiful film
- Her iconic roles – from Leon to Black Swan, her filmography is legendary
- Her off-screen personality – intellectually curious, funny, grounded
- Her social activism – she uses her platform to advocate for animals and gender equality
She remains one of the most fascinating, multifaceted stars to continually grace the big screen.
Fun and Fascinating Natalie Portman Facts
- She took graduate courses at Hebrew University of Jerusalem
- She is a certified scuba diver
- She is a talented dancer trained in ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance
- She released an experimental indie-pop album in 2004 under the pseudonym Natalie Portman‘s Shaved Head
- She was the first person born in the 1980s to win an Academy Award for Best Actress
- She lent her voice to The Simpsons as the special "Time and Punishment" segment of the "Treehouse of Horror" episode
- She is trilingual and also studied Japanese, Arabic, German and Spanish
Frequently Asked Natalie Portman Questions
What was Natalie Portman‘s first movie role?
Natalie Portman‘s first film role was as Mathilda in 1994‘s Léon: The Professional opposite Jean Reno. She was 12 years old at the time. The role catapulted her career thanks to the incredible acting talent she displayed despite her very young age.
Is Natalie Portman going to be in the next Thor movie?
Yes, Natalie Portman will reprise her role as Jane Foster once again in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, scheduled for release in 2022. This fourth Thor film will adapt a popular comic book storyline where Jane becomes Mighty Thor, taking on Thor‘s powers.
What accent did Natalie Portman use in Jackie?
To authentically portray Jackie Kennedy in the 2016 film Jackie, Natalie Portman used a flawless Mid-Atlantic accent. This style of upper-class East Coast accent was frequently adopted by wealthy Americans and social elites in the 1950s and 60s. Portman worked extensively with dialect coaches to master Jackie‘s unique speaking style and vocal cadence.