Natalie Portman

  • Actor, Director, Producer

Jun 09, 1981  in Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel

Also Known as: Natalie Hershlag, Nat

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Natalie Portman, born as Neta-Lee Hershlag, is an Academy-award winning actress who holds a dual American and Israeli citizenship. The actress who is known for her versatile acting and brilliant dancing skills is best known for roles in the Leon: The Professional (1994) and in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The actress who grew up in the US studied dancing and acting in New York and started acting while she was still studying in school. For her brilliant performances in her movies, the actress is rewarded with several awards and recognitions including the Academy Award for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award, the BAFTA Award and the BFCA Award. Apart from acting, Natalie has also directed one of the segments of the collective film title New York, I Love You and she has also directed a feature film, A Tale of Love and Darkness that released in 2015.
Early Life
Born in Jerusalem, Israel, Portman is the only child of Shelley Steven, an American homemaker and Avener Hershlag, an Israeli gynecologist and fertility specialist. Her maternal grandparents, Bernice and Arthur Stevens were originally from a Jewish family who moved to the US from Austria and Russia. Her paternal grandparents, Mania and Zvi Yehuda Hershlag were Jewish immigrants to Israel. Natalie Portman’s parents moved to the United States when she was just three years old. The family first lived in Washington, D.C and later in 1988 relocated to Connecticut and finally settled in Jericho, New York on Long Island in 1990.

While Portman lived in Washington D.C, she attended Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland and when she was living in Long Island, she went to the Jewish elementary school, Solomon Schechter School of Nassau County in Jericho, New York. The actress later graduated from Syosset High School in Syosset in 1999. In 2003, the actress went to Harvard University to pursue her graduation in Psychology. While pursuing her graduation, Portman co-authored two research papers that were published in scientific journals.
Personal Life
Natalie Portman has dated British businessman Nathan Rothschild, actors Lukas Haas, and Gael Garcia Bernal. In 2008 after appearing in the American folk singer Devendra Banhart’s video song, Carmensita, the two starting dating each other but the relationship did not last long and the couple split the same year. A year later, the actress started dating ballet dancer, Benjamin Millepied who was also the choreographer in her Academy Award winning film, Black Swan. After dating for more than a year in December 2010, the actress announced her engagement to Millepied and her pregnancy and on 4th August 2012, the couple tied the knot in a Jewish ceremony in Big Sur, California.
Movie Career
Natalie Portman’s acting career began in 1994 when she auditioned for a role of an orphan child in Luc Besson’s film, Leon: The Professional. Portman was selected for the role and it marked her feature film debut. The movie got wide critical acclaim and was a commercial hit; grossing more than 45 million US Dollars worldwide. Following the success of her debut film, Portman appeared in smaller roles in several films like Everyone Says I Love You (1996) and Mars Attack (1996). In 1997, the actress was cast to play the lead role as Anne Frank in the Broadway adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank. The same year, she started filming for the first of Star Wars prequel trilogy, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. The movie co-starring Liam Nesson, Ewan McGregor, Jake Lloyd, Frank Oz and Pernilla August had Portman playing the role of Padme Amidala. The movie released in May 1999 and it opened to positive reviews and became one of the highest-grossing movies of the year.

Following the success of her first tryst with the Star Wars franchise, the actress next appeared in Wayne Wang’s Anywhere But Here, which was based on Mona Simpson’s novel of the same name. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 1999 and released in theaters in November 1999. For her brilliant performance in the movie as Ann August, Portman received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globe Awards that year. The next year, the actress signed with director Matt Williams to play the role of a teenage mother in his drama romance film titled Where the Heart Is. The film co-starring Ashley Judd, Joan Cusack and Stockard Channing in the lead roles is based on the life of a 17-year-old girl who is abandoned by her boyfriend. The film got poor reviews but emerged to be a commercial hit.

After completing filming for Where the Heart Is, Portman went to Harvard University to pursue her graduation degree and she made it very clear that except for Star Wars, she would not appear in any other movies. During her summer break in 2000, the actress filmed for the second installment of the Stars Wars prequel trilogy, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. The film directed George Lucas released in 2002 and it featured an ensemble cast including Samuel L. Jackson, Ewan McGregor, and Christopher Lee. The film opened to great critical reviews and was a commercial hit. The actress then made cameo appearances in Zoolander (2001) and Cold Mountain (2003). Before starring in the third and final installment of the Star Wars prequel, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith in 2005. Portman also appeared in an independent movie Garden State that released in 2004. The movie was the official selection at the Sundance Film Festival that year and it won the Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards.

In 2006, the actress made her debut on TV as she hosted an episode of live sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live. In the same year, she starred in one of the most critically acclaimed films of her career, James McTeigue’s political thriller V for Vendetta. The movie co-starring Hugo Weaving had Portman playing the role of a young woman, Evey Hammond, who is saved by the anarchist freedom fighter from the secret police. For her role in the movie, the actress took voice coaching to perfect her English speaking skills with a British accent and she even went bald. The movie was critically acclaimed and it was a massive box office hit.

After her success with V for Vendetta, Portman appeared in a Canadian-American 2007 children’s fantasy comedy film, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium directed by Zach Helm; Portman plays the role of a woman who works in a magical toy store owned by Mr. Edward Magorium portrayed by Dustin Hoffman. Talking about her appearance in the movie, she said, she was excited to do a kids movie. Portman subsequently played the role in the 2008 drama film The Other Boleyn Girl alongside Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, and Jim Sturgess. The film directed by Justin Chadwick is an adapted version of a novel by Philippa Gregory with the same name.

In the same year, Portman made her debut as a director and her maiden directorial venture Eve starring Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazzara and Olivia Thirlby opened at the 65th Venice International Film Festival. The short film was based on the life of a young woman who gets dragged on her grandmother’s romantic date. The following year, the actress starred in the drama film, Brothers alongside Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal. The movie directed by Jim Sheridan was the remake of the 2004 Danish film with the same title.

In 2010, the actress gave one of the best performances of her career as she starred in the Darren Aronofsky’s film Black Swan where she played the role of a young ballet dancer. The film co-starring Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and Winona Ryder got wide critical acclaim and was a box office hit. For her role in the film, the actress practiced dance for five to eight hours daily for about six months and she also lost 20 pounds to look like a ballerina. For her brilliant performance in the film, Portman won both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. The following year, Portman starred alongside Ashton Kutcher in No Strings Attached; she was also the executive producer for the movie. Her next film in 2011 was David Gordon Green’s fantasy film, Your Highness co-starring James Franco and Danny McBride. The film opened to negative reviews and it bombed at the box office. In the same year, Portman also played the role of Jane Foster in Kenneth Branagh’s superhero film, Thor co-starring Chris Hemsworth, Stellan Skarsgard, Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Hiddleston. The movie was a huge box-office hit, grossing more than 449 million US Dollars. The actress also reprised her role in the sequel of the film, Thor: The Dark World that released in October 2013.

In February 2012, Natalie Portman had signed for Terrence Malick’s experimental drama film, Knight of Cups. The movie also featuring Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett in the lead roles released in March 2016. Before Knight of Cups released Portman directed her first feature film A Tale of Love and Darkness and also starred in the film. The film premiered at the 2015 Cannes film festival and released in the theaters in August 2016 amidst positive critical reviews. Portman’s other release in 2016 includes Jackie, a biographical drama film directed by Pablo Larrain, which is based on the life of the former first lady of United States of America Jacqueline Kennedy after the death of her husband, John F Kennedy.