Natalie Portman, My Role Model!!


Natalie Portman (Hebrew: נטלי פורטמן‎; born June 9, 1981) is a Golden Globe-winning, Academy Award-nominated Israeli-American actress. Portman began her career in the early 1990s, turning down the oppurtunity to become a child model in favor of acting. Her first role came in the 1994 independent film Leon: The Professional, however her breakout role did not come until she was cast Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

In 2005, Portman recieved an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her critically acclaimed performance in the art house drama Closer. She divides her roles between mainstream films such as V for Vendetta and art house films such as Garden State.

Early life

Portman was born Natalie Hershlag (Hebrew: נטלי הרשלג‎) in Jerusalem, Israel.[1][2] Her father, Avner Hershlag, is an Israeli doctor specializing in fertility and reproduction (reproductive endocrinology).[3][4] Her mother, Shelley Stevens, is an American homemaker who now works as her agent.[3] Portman’s maternal ancestors were Jews from Austria and Russia and her paternal ancestors were Jews who immigrated to Israel from Poland and Romania. Her grandfather’s parents died in Auschwitz and her Romanian-born great-grandmother was a spy for the British during World War II.[5]

Portman’s parents met at a Jewish student center at Ohio State University where her mother was selling tickets. Her father returned to Israel, but the two corresponded and were married when her mother visited Israel a few years later. In 1984, when Portman was three years old, the family moved from Israel to the United States, where her father pursued his medical training. The family first lived in Washington, D.C., where she attended Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, but relocated to Connecticut in 1988, and then settled permanently in Syosset, New York, in 1990.[6] Portman has said that although she “really love[s] the States… my heart’s in Jerusalem. That’s where I feel at home”.[5] She is an only child and very close to her parents, who are often seen with her at her film premieres.


Portman was a straight-A student.[7] “I’d rather be smart than be a movie star,”[8] she told an interviewer. Although she says her family was not religious,[9] she attended a Jewish elementary school, the Solomon Schechter Day School of Glen Cove, New York. She graduated from a public high school, Syosset High School.[6] Portman reportedly skipped the premiere of Star Wars: Episode I so she could study for her high school final exams

In June 2003, Portman graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and pursued graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the spring of 2004.[9] At Harvard, Portman was Alan Dershowitz’s research assistant (he thanks her in The Case for Israel). She was also a research assistant in a psychology lab, and in March 2006, appeared as a guest lecturer at a Columbia University course in terrorism and counterterrorism, where she spoke about her film V for Vendetta.[11] In addition to being bilingual in Hebrew and English, Portman has studiedFrench,[Japanese, German and Arabic.

As a student, Portman co-authored two research papers which were published in professional scientific journals. Her 1998 high school paper on the “Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen” 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.

Early career

Portman started dancing lessons at the age of four.[6] She performed in local troupes, and dreamed of dancing on Broadway. At the age of ten, Portman was discovered in a Long Island pizza parlor by an agent for Revlon, who offered her an opportunity to model.[7][6] She turned down the opportunity in favor of acting. In a magazine interview, Portman said: “I was definitely 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.”[19]

As a child, Portman spent her school holidays attending theater camps. When she was ten, she auditioned for Ruthless! about a girl who is prepared to commit murder to get the lead in a school play. She was chosen as the understudy for Britney Spears.[9] In 1994, she auditioned for Luc Besson’s film Léon (aka The Professional). She was initially turned down, but through further auditioning won the part. Soon after getting the part, she took “Portman”, her grandmother’s maiden name, as her stage name, in the interest of privacy;[6] in the Director’s Cut of the film found on DVD she is credited as Natalie Hershlag. In the film, Portman plays an orphaned girl who befriends a much older assassin. Léon opened on November 18, 1994, and marked her feature film debut at age 13. That same year she appeared in the short film Developing, which aired on television. Starting at age thirteen, Portman spent her school holidays attending upscale theater camps Stagedoor Manor and Usdan Camp, where she fell in love with acting, playing roles in camp productions such as the title character in Anne of Green Gables, Dream Laurey in Oklahoma!, and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.[citation needed]


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.[6] She was also the first choice to play Juliet in William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, but producers felt her age wasn’t suitable enough.[7] 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.[6] 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 commented on Portman’s performance:[21]
“ Sarandon is good, but Portman is astonishing. Unlike any number of actresses her age, she’s neither too maudlin nor too plucky. Her Ann is both a petulant wet blanket and a thoughtful, painfully lonely girl fumbling to find herself. Portman knows her character is the soul of the story, and she isn’t overreaching about it. She portrays Ann’s angst quietly, using her wide, expressive face to convey little ripples of frustration and exasperation. She’s the counterpoint to Sarandon’s bravado, and she keeps the film from becoming a hammy, anything-you-can-cry-I-can-cry-harder diva fest. ”

In the late 1990s, Portman was cast as Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and in early 1999, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace opened and became the highest grossing film of the year and the second highest grossing film out of the Star Wars series.[citation needed] Its massive audience and mainstream appeal made Portman an instant star.[6] Portman then signed on to play the lead role of a persevering 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.[6] 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, including additional production in London. In July 2001, Portman opened in New York City’s Public Theater production of Chekhov’s The Seagull, directed by Mike Nichols, playing the role of Nina alongside Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The play opened at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. That same year, she was one of many celebrities who made cameo appearances in the comedy Zoolander. In 2002, the film opened around the world. 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 saw Portman win a Supporting Actress Golden Globe as well as a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.[citation needed]

2005 saw the worldwide release of the final Star Wars prequel, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith on May 19. The film was the highest grossing film of the year, and was voted Favorite Motion Picture at the People’s Choice Awards. Shortly before the film’s opening, Portman shaved her head for her role in the film adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta, released in March 2006. Her shaved head was first seen publicly at the Revenge of the Sith premieres. “Making a dramatic change that isn’t reversible is always a worthy experience,” she said of the drastically different hairstyle, “and that sort of gave me the courage to do it.” She kept her hair short for most of 2005, had a fauxhawk, and briefly sported a full mohawk in late August, saying that it was “kind of wonderful to throw vanity away for a bit”. Also in 2005, Portman filmed Free Zone and legendary director Milos Forman’s Goya’s Ghosts. Forman hadn’t seen any of her work, but thought she looked like a Goya painting so he requested a meeting.[citation needed] During the filming of Goya’s Ghosts, she partied in Madrid with co-star Javier Bardem, but was largely unrecognized due to her mohawk.[citation needed]


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 now-famous SNL Digital Short,she portrays herself as an angry gangsta rapper (with Andy Samberg as her Flava 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. 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).
Portman promoting V for Vendetta at Comic Con 2005.
Portman promoting V for Vendetta at Comic Con 2005.

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 had her head shaved. Maxim magazine named Portman #33 on its annual Hot 100 list, citing her V for Vendetta hairstyle as a huge accomplishment proving “you don’t need hair to be hot.”

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 will co-star in the film. She was also named one of the hottest women of film and TV by Blender Magazine.

Filmed and screened in 2006 was Wong Kar-wai’s road movie My Blueberry Nights. Portman won acclaim for her role as gambler Leslie
“ It’s not until Portman shows up that you’ll find the sort of sizzle and sympathy Wong cooks up with ease in his best films.

Natalie Portman — Best Actress? Yup. For once she’s not playing a waif or a child princess but a mature, full-bodied woman, probably a decade older than Portman is (25). She looks great, in a blond rinse and come-hither outfits, but she’s not coasting on her looks; they are only accoutrements to Leslie’s natural salesmanship. She uses her appeal to simultaneously flirt with and taunt the gambler across the table….But the memory we’ll cherish is that of Portman’s vibrancy, grittiness and ache, all performed with a virtuosa’s easy assurance. She, not Jones, is the savory dish of movie magic in a mostly bland Blueberry Nights

Portman had a small role in the 18th season of The Simpsons as the voice of Bart Simpson’s love interest, Darcy, from a neighboring town She also appears in Paul McCartney’s music video “Dance Tonight” from his 2007 album “Memory Almost Full” directed by Michel Gondry.

Portman also has a cameo in the Wes Anderson film The Darjeeling Limited opposite Jason Schwartzman, and will star opposite Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal in the drama film Brothers, a remake of the 2004 Danish film of the same name


~ by awlyatyarazz on February 5, 2008.

One Response to “Natalie Portman, My Role Model!!”

  1. I think she is a brilliant role model for so many children. I have a lot of respect for Portman

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