10 things you didn’t know about NATALIE PORTMAN
Natalie Portman has been on screens for nearly three decades. After she wowed audiences with her wonderful debut role in The Professional, the actress tried her hand at various genres in the following years, finding herself in them with ease. Below you will find 10 interesting facts about her that you don’t necessarily know.
A visit to a pizza restaurant changed her life
There’s no telling how Portman’s life would have turned out had it not been for a visit to a pizzeria, where a Revlon representative spotted her and offered to become a child model. She declined, but used the contact to find her own agent and launch her acting career. She was 9 years old at the time – two years later she scored her debut in The Professional. Before she appeared on screen, she changed her real name Hershlag to Portman to guard her family’s privacy. The artistic pseudonym is also her grandmother’s maiden name.
Even before she appeared in a movie, she also appeared in a musical! She was Laura Bundy’s understudy in the musical Ruthless!.
In her younger days she trained in ballet
Portman starred in Black Swan in 2010, and the role earned her her first and only Academy Award to date. The actress had contact with ballet as a child – she learned it at the age of four, as well as modern dance. After the premiere of Black Swan, a debate heated up about how much of the dancing seen on screen was due to Portman, and how much to ballerina Sarah Lane, whose body was digitally superimposed with the actress’ face. According to the filmmakers, Portman performed most of the ballet figures herself, sometimes making physical sacrifices (Darren Aronofsky revealed, for example, that she damaged a rib).
The script was changed especially for her
In 1999 Portman appeared in the film Anywhere But Here. However, she initially turned down the role because the script included a sex scene involving her character, which she did not want to participate in. Susan Sarandon, who was also to appear in the film, and its director Wayne Wang reacted – they were so keen for Portman to take part in the film that they led to a rewrite of the script. Portman years later admitted that she had to build “a fortress against herself” to avoid being sexualized.
She speaks six languages
Portman is considered one of the most intelligent actresses – she graduated from Harvard with a degree in psychology (she is the “movie star” referred to by the characters in Fincher’s The Social Network), and she speaks six languages. In addition to English and Hebrew (the actress is from Israel), she speaks French, German, Spanish and Japanese. She spoke her native language in the film she directed, A Tale of Love and Darkness.
She missed the premiere of The Phantom Menace
Portman was 18 when The Phantom Menace, chronologically the first installment of Star Wars, hit the screens. Although for many of her peers the opportunity to attend the premiere of the show would probably have been a dream come true, Portman chose to stay home and prepare for exams. Years later, she said she “preferred being smart to being a movie star.”
She was worried about the negative reception of the prequels
The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and (to a lesser extent) Revenge of the Sith disappointed many Saga fans and had a poor reputation over the years. Their image in the eyes of Star Wars fans was only warmed up by Disney’s trilogy. In 2019, Portman confessed how difficult it was for her to watch fans disappointed by what they had so anticipated. Only later did she realize that such is the “nature of the beast” and it’s impossible to be satisfied with that level of anticipation.
We almost watched her in Gangs of New York and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Although Portman’s filmography can hardly be called poor, she was linked to other roles that she ultimately did not receive. Among them are Gangs of New York, David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (she was supposed to play Lisbeth Salander there), Lolita, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Romeo and Juliet and Superman Returns.
Calls Oscar a "false idol"
Although she was visibly emotional when receiving the Oscar, when giving an interview a few years later she admitted that she had no idea where her statuette was. She further stated that worshipping an Oscar is like celebrating a false idol, which is why she doesn’t put it on display.
She had a brand of vegan shoes
Portman had been a vegetarian since the age of eight – specifically, since she watched an operation performed on a chicken – in turn converting to veganism in 2009. The immediate reason was reading the book “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer. Nine years later, Portman produced a documentary based on the book, which she also narrated. In addition, the actress avoids wearing fur or leather clothes, and in 2007 she launched her own brand of vegan shoes. In the future, she would like to launch her own cooking show in which she would promote a vegan lifestyle.
It was Taika Waititi who persuaded her to return to the MCU
In 2011, Portman appeared in MCU, specifically in Thor, where she played Jane Foster. She reprised her role in the sequel and that, at least it seemed at the time, was where her participation in the MCU ended. Portman was not thrilled that the film was ultimately not directed by Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), although there were originally plans to do so. After several years, however, the actress played Jane in Thor: Love and Thunder – she was personally persuaded to take part by director Taika Waititi, who assured her that she would be able to do something completely different on screen.
In reference to Portman and female directors, let’s mention the actress’ gesture at the 2020 Academy Awards gala – Portman appeared there in a dress embroidered with the names of underrated female filmmakers. The affair sparked controversy, and Portman was pointed out that she herself had taken part in only two films directed by a woman. The actress responded at the time that she had worked with women on short film projects.