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Portman at the premiere of Black Swan during the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.
(Hebrew: נטלי הרשלג)
June 9, 1981
|Partner(s)||Benjamin Millepied (2010-present)|
Natalie Hershlag (Hebrew: נטלי הרשלג; born 9 June 1981), better known by her stage name Natalie Portman, is an Israeli-American actress. Her first role was as an orphan taken in by a hitman in the 1994 French action film Léon (known in the United States as The Professional). During the 1990s, Portman had major roles in films like Beautiful Girls and Anywhere but Here, before being cast for the role as Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. In 1999, she enrolled at Harvard University to study psychology while she was working on the Star Wars films. She completed her bachelor's degree in 2003.
In 2001, Portman opened in New York City's Public Theatre production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, alongside Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In 2005, Portman received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture for the drama Closer. She shaved her head and learned to speak with an English accent for her starring role in V for Vendetta (2006), for which she won a Constellation Award for Best Female Performance, and a Saturn Award for Best Actress. She played leading roles in the historical dramas Goya's Ghosts (2006) and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008). In May 2008, she served as the youngest member of the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival jury. Portman's directorial debut, Eve, opened the 65th Venice International Film Festival's shorts competition in 2008.
Portman was born in Jerusalem, Israel. Her father, Avner Hershlag, is an Israeli doctor specializing in fertility and reproduction ( reproductive endocrinology). Her mother, Shelley Stevens, is an American homemaker who works as her agent. Portman's maternal ancestors were Jewish immigrants from Austria and Russia, and her paternal ancestors were Jews who moved to Israel from Poland and Romania. Her paternal grandfather, whose parents died at Auschwitz, was an economics professor in Israel, and her Romanian-born great-grandmother was a spy for British Intelligence during World War II.
Portman's parents met at a Jewish student centre at Ohio State University, where her mother was selling tickets. They corresponded after her father returned to Israel, and were married when her mother visited a few years later. In 1984, when Portman was three years old, the family moved to the United States, where her father received his medical training. The family first lived in Washington, D.C., where Portman attended Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, but relocated to Connecticut in 1988, and then settled on Long Island, New York, in 1990. She attended Syosset High School in Syosset, Long Island. Portman has said that although she "really love[s] the States... my heart's in Jerusalem. That's where I feel at home." (she is a dual citizen of the United States and Israel). She is an only child and very close to her parents, who are often seen with her at her film premieres.
Although she says her family was not religious, Portman learned to speak both Hebrew and English and attended a Jewish elementary school, the Solomon Schechter Day School of Glen Cove, New York. She graduated from the public Syosset High School in 1999. Portman skipped the premiere of Star Wars: Episode I so she could study for her high school final exams.
On June 5, 2003, Portman graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor's degree in psychology. "I don't care if [college] ruins my career," she reportedly said. "I'd rather be smart than a movie star." At Harvard, Portman was Alan Dershowitz's research assistant in a psychology lab. While attending Harvard, she was a resident of Lowell House and wrote a letter to the Harvard Crimson in response to an anti-Israeli essay.
Portman took graduate courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the spring of 2004. In March 2006, she appeared as a guest lecturer at a Columbia University course in terrorism and counterterrorism, where she spoke about her film V for Vendetta.
Portman has professed an interest in foreign languages since childhood and has studied French, Japanese, German, and Arabic.
As a student, Portman co-authored two research papers that were published in professional scientific journals. Her 1998 high school paper, "A Simple Method To Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar," was entered in the Intel Science Talent Search. In 2002, she contributed to a study on memory called "Frontal Lobe Activation During Object Permanence" during her psychology studies at Harvard.
Due to her scientific publications, Portman is among a very small number of professional actors with a defined Erdős–Bacon number, a concept which reflects the " small world phenomenon" in academia and entertainment by measuring the "collaborative distance" between that person and Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős—and the number of links, through roles in films, by which the individual is separated from American actor Kevin Bacon.
Portman started dancing lessons at age four and performed in local troupes. At the age of 10, a Revlon agent asked her to become a child model, but she turned down the offer to focus on acting. In a magazine interview, Portman said that she was "different from the other kids. I was more ambitious, I knew what I liked and what I wanted, and I worked very hard. I was a very serious kid."
Portman spent her school holidays attending theatre camps. When she was 10, she auditioned for the off-Broadway show Ruthless!, a musical about a girl who is prepared to commit murder to get the lead in a school play. Portman and future pop star Britney Spears were chosen as the understudies for star Laura Bell Bundy. In 1994, she auditioned for the role of a child who befriends a middle-aged hitman in Luc Besson's film, Léon (aka The Professional). Soon after getting the part, she took her grandmother's maiden name "Portman" as her stage name, in the interest of privacy and to protect her family's identity. Léon opened on November 18, 1994, marking her feature film debut at age 13. That same year she appeared in the short film Developing, which aired on television.
During the mid-1990s, Portman had roles in the films Heat, Everyone Says I Love You, and Mars Attacks!, as well as a major role in Beautiful Girls. She was the first choice to play Juliet in William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, but producers felt her age wasn't suitable. In 1997, Portman played the role of Anne Frank in a Broadway adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank.
She initially turned down the lead role in the film Anywhere but Here after learning it would involve a sex scene, but director Wayne Wang and actress Susan Sarandon demanded a rewrite of the script; Portman was shown a new draft, and she joined the project. The film opened in late 1999, and she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Ann August. Critic Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon called Portman "astonishing" and said that "[u]nlike any number of actresses her age, she's neither too maudlin nor too plucky." In the late 1990s, Portman was cast as Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The first part, The Phantom Menace, opened in early 1999. She then signed on to play the lead role of a teenaged mother in Where the Heart Is.
After filming Where the Heart Is, Portman moved into the dorms of Harvard University to pursue her bachelor's degree in psychology. She said in a 1999 interview that, with the exception of the Star Wars prequels, she would not act for the next four years in order to concentrate on studying. During the summer break from June to September 2000, Portman filmed Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones in Sydney, along with additional production in London.
In July 2001, Portman opened in New York City's Public Theatre production of Chekhov's The Seagull, directed by Mike Nichols; she played the role of Nina alongside Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The play opened at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. That same year, she was one of many celebrities who made cameo appearances in the 2001 comedy Zoolander. Portman was cast in a small role in the film Cold Mountain alongside Jude Law and Nicole Kidman.
In 2004, Portman appeared in the independent movies Garden State and Closer. Garden State was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and won Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards. Her performance as Alice in Closer earned her a Supporting Actress Golden Globe as well as a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
The final Star Wars prequel, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, was released on May 19, 2005. The film was the highest grossing domestic film of the year, and was voted Favorite Motion Picture at the People's Choice Awards. Also in 2005, Portman filmed Free Zone and director Miloš Forman's Goya's Ghosts. Forman had not seen any of her work but thought she looked like a Goya painting, so he requested a meeting.
Portman appeared on Saturday Night Live on March 4, 2006, hosting the show with musical guest Fall Out Boy and special guest star Dennis Haysbert. In a SNL Digital Short, she portrays herself as an angry gangsta rapper (with Andy Samberg as her Flavor Flav-esque partner in Viking garb) during a faux-interview with Chris Parnell, saying she cheated at Harvard University while high on pot and cocaine. The song, titled "Natalie's Rap," was released – alongside other sketches from the show – in 2009 on Incredibad, an album by the Lonely Island. In another sketch, she portrays a student named Rebecca Hershlag (her actual surname) attending a Bar Mitzvah, and in an installment of the recurring sketch The Needlers (also known as Sally and Dan, The Couple That Should Be Divorced), plays a fertility specialist (her father's profession).
V for Vendetta opened in early 2006. Portman portrayed Evey Hammond, a young woman who is saved from the secret police by the main character, V. Portman worked with a voice coach for the role, learning to speak with an English accent, and she famously had her head shaved.
Portman has commented on V for Vendetta's political relevance and mentioned that her character, who joins an underground anti-government group, is "often bad and does things that you don't like" and that "being from Israel was a reason I wanted to do this because terrorism and violence are such a daily part of my conversations since I was little." She said the film "doesn't make clear good or bad statements. It respects the audience enough to take away their own opinion".
Both Goya's Ghosts and Free Zone received limited releases in 2006. Portman starred in the children's film Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, which began filming in April 2006 and was released in November 2007; she has said that she was "excited to do a kids' movie." In late 2006, Portman filmed The Other Boleyn Girl, a historical drama in which she plays Anne Boleyn; Eric Bana and Scarlett Johansson co-starred. She was named one of the hottest women of film and TV by Blender Magazine.
In 2006, she filmed Wong Kar-wai's road movie My Blueberry Nights. She won acclaim for her role as gambler Leslie, because "[f]or once she's not playing a waif or a child princess but a mature, full-bodied woman... but she's not coasting on her looks... She uses her appeal to simultaneously flirt with and taunt the gambler across the table." Portman voiced Bart Simpson's girlfriend Darcy in the episode " Little Big Girl" of The Simpsons' 18th season.
She appeared in Paul McCartney's music video " Dance Tonight" from his 2007 album Memory Almost Full, directed by Michel Gondry. Portman co-starred in the Wes Anderson short film Hotel Chevalier, opposite Jason Schwartzman, in which she performed her second nude scene (her first being Goya's Ghosts). In May 2008, Portman served as the youngest member of the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival jury, and in 2009, she starred opposite Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal in the drama film Brothers, a remake of the 2004 Danish film of the same name.
In 2008, Portman at age 27 made her directorial debut at the Venice Film Festival. "Eve", a short movie about a young woman who is dragged along on her grandmother's romantic date, was screened out of competition. Portman said she had always had a fascination with the older generation, and drew inspiration for the character from her own grandmother.
Portman played a veteran ballerina in Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, a role of which critic Kurt Loder wrote: "Portman gives one of her most compelling performances in this film, which is saying something." She has also been cast in the role of Jane Foster in Kenneth Branagh's upcoming film adaptation of Thor. Portman dropped out of the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet in the 2010 novel adaptation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but she continues as producer.
Portman, who is an advocate for animal rights, has been a vegetarian since childhood. She became a vegan in 2009 after reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals. . She does not eat animal products or wear fur, feathers, or leather. "All of my shoes are from Target and Stella McCartney," she has said. In 2007, she launched her own brand of vegan footwear.
In 2007, Portman traveled to Rwanda with Jack Hanna, to film the documentary Gorillas on the Brink. Later, at a naming ceremony, Portman christened a baby gorilla Gukina, which means "to play." Portman has been an advocate of environmental causes since childhood, when she joined an environmental song and dance troupe known as World Patrol Kids. She is also a member of the One Voice movement.
Portman was involved with the 2004 presidential campaign of Democratic candidate John Kerry and has supported antipoverty activities. In 2004 and 2005, she traveled to Uganda, Guatemala, and Ecuador as the Ambassador of Hope for FINCA International, an organization that promotes micro-lending to help finance women-owned businesses in developing countries. In an interview conducted backstage at the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia and appearing on the PBS program Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria, she discussed microfinance. Host Fareed Zakaria said that he was "generally wary of celebrities with fashionable causes," but included the segment with Portman because "she really knew her stuff."
In the "Voices" segment of the April 29, 2007, episode of the ABC Sunday Morning Program This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Portman discussed her work with FINCA and how it can benefit women and children in Third World countries. In fall 2007, Portman visited several university campuses, including Harvard, USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Princeton, New York University, and Columbia, to inspire students with the power of microfinance and to encourage them to join the Village Banking Campaign to help families and communities lift themselves out of poverty.
In 2010, Portman's activist work and popularity with young people earned her a nomination for VH1's Do Something Awards, which is dedicated to honoring individuals who do good.
Politically, Portman is a supporter of the Democrats, and in the 2004 presidential race she campaigned for the Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry. In the 2008 presidential election, Portman supported Senator Hillary Clinton of New York in the Democratic primaries. She later campaigned for eventual Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, during the general election. However, in a 2008 interview, she also says: "I even like John McCain. I disagree with his war stance — which is a really big deal — but I think he's a very moral person."
On the concept of the afterlife, she comments: "I don't believe in that. I believe this is it, and I believe it's the best way to live." She has said that she feels more Jewish in Israel and that she would like to raise her children in the Jewish religion: "A priority for me is definitely that I'd like to raise my kids Jewish, but the ultimate thing is to have someone who is a good person and who is a partner."
In the May 2002 issue of Vogue, Portman called actor/musician Lukas Haas and musician Moby her close friends. After starring in the video for his song "Carmensita," she began a relationship with American folk singer Devendra Banhart, which ended in September 2008. She met ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied after they met on the set of Portman's film Black Swan, for which Millepied acted as choreographer. By at least New Year's Eve 2009, the two had begun dating.
On December 27, 2010, a Portman representative told the press that Portman and Millepied were engaged and expecting a child.
Film and television
|1994||Léon||Mathilda||(aka The Professional)|
|" Developing"||Nina||23-minute short film|
|1996||Beautiful Girls||Marty||Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Actress
|Everyone Says I Love You||Laura Dandridge|
|Mars Attacks!||Taffy Dale|
|1999||Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace||Padmé Amidala||Nominated — Csapnivalo Golden Slate Award for Best Female Performance
Nominated — Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple (Shared with Jake Lloyd)
|Anywhere but Here||Ann August||Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture|
|2000||Where the Heart Is||Novalee Nation||Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Film - Choice Actress|
|2002||Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones||Padmé Amidala|| Teen Choice Award for Film - Choice Actress, Drama/Action Adventure
Nominated — Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple (Shared with Hayden Christensen)
Nominated — Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress
Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Film - Choice Chemistry (Shared with Hayden Christensen)
|2004||Garden State||Samantha||Nominated — Irish Film and Television Award for Best International Actress
Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance
Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (Shared with Zach Braff)
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress: Drama
Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Liar
Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Liplock (Shared with Zach Braff)
Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Love Scene (Shared with Zach Braff)
Nominated — Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
|Closer||Alice Ayres/Jane Jones|| Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Nominated — London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress: Drama
Nominated — Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
|2005||Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith||Padmé Amidala||Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress: Action Adventure/Thriller|
|Free Zone||Rebecca||received a limited US theatrical release in April 2006|
|2006||V for Vendetta||Evey Hammond|| Saturn Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Movies - Choice Actress: Drama/Action Adventure
|Paris, je t'aime||Francine||Ensemble film with 22 segments. She appears in the segment directed by German writer-director Tom Tykwer.|
|Goya's Ghosts||Ines Bilbatua & Alicia|
|2007||My Blueberry Nights||Leslie|
|The Darjeeling Limited||Jack's Ex-Girlfriend|
|" Hotel Chevalier"||Jack's Ex-Girlfriend||13-minute short companion piece to The Darjeeling Limited|
|Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium||Molly Mahoney|
|2008||The Other Boleyn Girl||Anne Boleyn|
|2009||Love and Other Impossible Pursuits||Emilia Greenleaf|
|New York, I Love You||Rifka|
|Brothers||Grace Cahill||Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress
|Black Swan||Nina Sayers|| Austin Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Indiana Film Journalists Association Award for Best Actress
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Online Award for Best Actress
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
Nominated — London Film Critics Circle Award for Actress of the Year
Nominated — San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
|2011||No Strings Attached||Emma Franklin||Post-production|
|1997||The Diary of Anne Frank||Anne Frank|
- 2002 – Teen Choice Awards, Choice Movie Actress: Drama/Action Adventure: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
- 2005 – Golden Globe Awards, Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Closer
- 2005 – National Board of Review Awards, Best Acting by an Ensemble: Closer (shared with Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, and Jude Law)
- 2005 – San Diego Film Critics Society Awards, Best Supporting Actress: Closer
- 2007 – The Constellation Awards, Best Female Performance in a 2006 Science Fiction Film, TV Movie, or Mini-Series: V for Vendetta
- 2007 – Saturn Awards, Best Actress: V for Vendetta
- 2010 - New York Film Critics Online, Best Actress: Black Swan
- 2000 – Golden Globe Awards, Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Anywhere but Here
- 2000 – Teen Choice Awards, Choice Movie Actress: Where the Heart Is
- 2000 – Saturn Awards, Best Young Actress: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
- 2003 – Saturn Awards, Best Actress: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
- 2004 – Academy Awards, Best Supporting Actress: Closer
- 2005 – BAFTA Awards, Best Supporting Actress: Closer
- 2005 – Satellite Awards, Best Supporting Actress, Drama: Closer
- 2005 – Teen Choice Awards, Choice Movie Actress: Drama: Closer, Garden State; Choice Movie Actress: Action/Adventure: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith; Choice Movie Liar, Garden State; Choice Movie Liplock: Garden State; Choice Movie Love Scene: Garden State
- 2005 – MTV Movie Awards, Best Female Performance: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones; Best Kiss: Garden State
- 2005 – Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, Best Supporting Actress: Closer; Best Acting Ensemble: Closer
- 2006 – Teen Choice Awards, Choice Movie Actress: Drama/Action Adventure: V for Vendetta
- 2006 – Saturn Awards, Best Actress: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- 2010 – Saturn Awards, Best Actress: Brothers
- 2011 - Golden Globe Awards, Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama: Black Swan