Cheat Sheet: Natalie Portman
Name: Natalie Portman
Date of birth: 9th June 1981
Place of birth: Jerusalem, Israel
Special move Acting
Films include: Beautiful Girls, Star Wars Episodes I-III, Garden State, Closer, V for Vendetta, The Other Boleyn Girl, Black Swan.
What you probably already know:
Natalie Portman is unusual amongst popular actresses of her age group (can you believe she’s almost 30?) in that her fame owes nothing at all to overexposure – instead, she has made the pretty radical decision to appear in comparatively few films but perform very well in all of them. Ever since her debut aged 13 in French thriller Léon (picture above), she has never once fumbled a leading role, winning plaudits for performances as varied as an apprentice terrorist, a stripper, a pathological liar and at least two queens. We love her. Can you tell that we love her?
It doesn’t seem possible to dislike Natalie Portman. Although her highest accolade so far has been a Golden Globe, she’s the odds-on favourite to take this year’s Best Actress Oscar for her role as tortured ballerina Nina in Black Swan, an achievement which will cement her position as unassailable Hollywood royalty. It’s certainly been quite a rollercoaster ride – just think, seven years ago she was in Garden State with Zach Braff. Twelve years ago she was hanging out with Jar Jar Binks. The girl done good.
What you might not know:
Famous for claiming she’d “rather be smart than a movie star”, Portman is a psychology graduate with a degree from Harvard and several published papers. She also turned down a career as a model – she was approached aged 10 by Revlon – to focus on understudying a part in an off-Broadway musical. Her co-understudy was Britney Spears, who is six months her junior. For the record, Natalie definitely wins the ‘looking best at thirty’ award, and also the ‘not having ill-advised children really early’ trophy (she’s currently pregnant with her first) – and that’s not to mention the prestigious ‘becoming famous at an early age without having it ruin one’s life’ medallion.
Deeply affected by her experience of seeing laser surgery performed on a chicken aged eight, Portman is a vegan who has her own range of cruelty-free footwear. Never mind about the shoes, though – let’s return for a moment to the reason for her rejection of meat. She saw laser surgery demonstrated on a chicken. When she was eight. Could this be the one example of an interesting story about vegetarianism? Just when you think that superb performances and a sensible reluctance to fall out of taxis without any pants on, Natalie rolls out big guns like that; she’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Natalie Portman quote:
“…our job as actors is empathy. Our job is to imagine what someone else’s life is like. And if you can’t do that in real life, if you can’t do that as a human being, then good luck as an actor… I just think it’s an important thing to engage in the world. And it’s just too easy not to in our society.”
What to say at a dinner party:
Of course, she found fame as a child star in France even before her acclaimed 1997 Broadway performance as Anne Frank…
What not to say at a dinner party:
“Cor, I can’t wait to see her cop off with Mila Kunis!”
This year sees three new releases from Portman – Marvel epic Thor, inane fantasy Your Highness and friends-with-benefits rom-com No Strings Attached. We don’t wish to seem disloyal, but this could be the year we finally see her in a truly dreadful film…