Biography of Natalie PortmanNatalie Portman (eng. Natalie Portman, real name Natalie (or Neta Lee) Hershlag) – American actress of cinema and theater, is of Israeli origin. She became widely known for her participation in the films Leon, Closer, V for Vendetta, The Other Boleyn Girl, Black Swan, the prequel trilogy to the Star Wars epic, etc. She was awarded Oscar, two Golden Globes, Genesis Prize, etc. Her net worth is estimated from $60 million to $125 million.
Childhood and familyNatalie Portman was born in Jerusalem on June 9, 1981, in the family of Avner Hershlag, gynecologist and infertility specialist, and his wife, Shelley Stevens, a housewife.
Shelley comes from a Jewish family of emigrants from the Russian Empire and Austria-Hungary; her father’s parents immigrated to Israel from Romania and Poland. During the Second World War, Natalie’s great-grandfather and great-grandmother died in the concentration camp of Auschwitz, and another great-grandmother served in British intelligence. When Natalie was 3 years old, the family moved from Israel to the USA – first to Washington, and then to Long Island (New York state), where her father became a professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hofstra Medical School. Parents continued to maintain an emotional connection with their homeland, and Natalie for a long time attended a Jewish school, therefore she is fluent in Hebrew. The actress says that, despite her great love for America, Israel will forever remain her homeland.
EducationIn school years, the girl was fond of not only theater and dancing, but also of natural sciences. In 1998, while attending secondary school in Syosset, she became a co-author of the scientific work "A Visual Method for Demonstrating Enzymatic Hydrogen Production from Sugar", for which she won a prize in the prestigious science competition for high school students "Intel Science Talent Search".
She also learned several foreign languages: French, Japanese, German, and Arabic, and began to play her first roles first as a hobby. Subsequently, despite already serious success in the cinema, Natalie entered Harvard University, which she successfully graduated in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
In an interview, Portman explained her choice: «It`s not so important for me that the college can ruin my career. I want to be intelligent more than to be a movie star».After Harvard, Portman went to Israel, graduating in 2004 from the Master’s program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
First roles Along with the interest in science and languages, Natalie showed artistic temperament from childhood. For the first time she entered the dance group at the age of four, and then she was seriously engaged in modern choreography at the studio "American Theater Dance Workshop" on Long Island. There also was a theater studio "Usdan Center", where the girl learned the basics of acting.
When Portman was 10 years old, the cosmetic brand Revlon suggested her to become a model, what Natalie refused because she was engaged in the theater. Later, she recalled that in her childhood she had more ambitions than other children: she knew exactly what she wanted, and worked really hard.
According to Zoomboola.com, in 1992, the 10-year-old actress first took part in the "adult" production of the musical "Ruthless!" – she was in the second cast with the upcoming pop star Britney Spears and Laura Bell Bundy played in the main part.
The following year, Natalie received one of the main roles – a girl-nymphet Matilda with a difficult fate – in the famous criminal drama "Leon" (1994) by Luc Besson. A young but fearless actress played in a brilliant duet with Jean Reno, and Gary Oldman was the main villain in the film.
It was that time when Natalie adopted a stage name "Portman" from her grandmother’s maiden name to separate her artistic career from family and private life. The work of the beginning actress was called "an amazing debut": despite her young age, Portman played absolutely professionally, and the dramatic and touching story of the friendship between the killer and the teenage girl did not leave the audience indifferent. A little later, the young actress received an invitation to play in the film "Lolita", where her partner would be Jeremy Irons, but the parents of under-age Natalie refused a proposal – the Adrian Lyne’s film was much franker about the love of adult male and a young female.
After playing in "Leon", the fate of Natalie Portman in the cinema, one might say, was predetermined. Already in 1995, she played a small role in the crime drama "Fight", where she filmed with such stars as Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, and Val Kilmer.
The following year, another film was released with young Natalie – the musical romantic comedy by Woody Allen called "Everybody Says I Love You". Another interesting work of Natalie schoolgirl was shooting in Tim Burton’s comic science fiction film "Mars Attacks!" (1996).
In this film, as in the previous two, Natalie was just a "child in adult cinema," so the roles were very small. This was different in the tragicomedy "Beautiful Girls" (1996), where 13-year-old Natalie played along with adults and such Hollywood actors as Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman. In 1997, the girl returned to the theatrical stage and played the role of Anne Frank in the Broadway play based on the famous "Anne Frank’s Diary" about the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. In the same 1997, the 16-year-old Natalie Portman was approved for the role of Padme Amidala, Queen of the Naboo planet, in George Lucas’s film "Star Wars. Episode I. The Hidden Menace (1999).
It is interesting that the role of Padme’s twin was played in this film by an even younger Keira Knightley, for whom it was the first work in a big cinema. When the girls wore makeup, they became so similar to each other that even their own mothers could confuse them.
The film "The Hidden Menace" collected fantastic box office returns of more than a billion dollars and became a favorite part of the space saga for many fans of the universe, created by George Lucas. At that time, Natalie successfully combined intense work in cinema and theater with studies at school and participation in scientific projects. She could not even come to the premiere of the blockbuster, because at that time she was intensively preparing for the final exams and entering the university.
A little later, in 1999, the drama "Anywhere But Not Here" was released, where the role of the mother of Natalie’s heroine was played by Susan Sarandon. At first, the girl refused to play in this film because the script contained a sex scene with her participation. Then Susan Sarandon and director Wayne Wang insisted on changing the script in order to involve Natalie in the project.
For this work, the young actress received her first Golden Globe nomination for The Best supporting role. Before studying at Harvard, she also played a major role in the melodrama "Where the Heart Is" (2000).
The heyday of the actress careerIn 1999, after entering the Faculty of Psychology, Natalie Portman announced that she was going to concentrate on her studies and temporarily ceased her actress career, except for shooting in the next "Star Wars". Still she did not stop to shoot, but studying at that time was the main priority for the actress.
Work on a new prequel "Star Wars. Episode II: Attack of the Clones" (2002) the girl was leading during the summer vacation of 2000. Participation in the high-budget, but criticized film almost had a negative impact on the actress reputation of Natalie. So, shortly after filming at Lucas, she played Nina Zarechnaya in the Chekhov’s "Seagull" in the New York City’s Public Theater in Manhattan, but she was rather repulsed by the serious spectators than attracted to. In the period from 2001 to 2004, the actress appeared in only a few small roles – due to problems with her actress reputation, and also because of active studies and scientific projects. Her most important roles at that time were roles in the low-budget drama "Country of Gardens" and Mike Nichols’ melodrama "Closer", where Portman played in an outstanding acting quartet with Julia Roberts, Jude Law and Clive Owen. The films came out after she completed her Master’s degree in 2004, and "Closer" brought the actress her first "Golden Globe" Award, as well as Oscar nomination and several other awards. In May 2005, the final part of the trilogy – "Star Wars. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" was released, which became the highest-grossing film of the year. In the same year, Natalie played the main role in the independent road-movie "Free Zone", and then in the famous anti-utopia "V for Vendetta" based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel and the Wachowski brothers’ script. Perhaps, it was this picture and the role of the partner of the revolutionary V, Ivi, which brought Portman back to the top of the acting pedestal – it was possible to say goodbye to the bored manner of Princess Padmé.
Then, after participating in the movie almanac "Paris, I Love You" (2006), the actress played one of the main roles in Milos Forman’s drama "Goya’s Ghosts" (2006), where her screen partner was the famous Spanish actor Javier Bardem, and the role of the artist Francisco Goya was played by Stellan Skarsgard.
In 2007, Natalie performed a small but memorable role as a gambling girl Leslie in Wong Kar-Wai’s melodrama "My Blueberry Nights", starring Jude Law and jazz singer Nora Jones. In this film, Portman once again demonstrated her rebellious nature and the ability to feel absolutely uninhibited in front of the cameras.
In the same year, the actress participated in two original films: the adventure tragicomedy "Train to Darjeeling. Desperate travelers "(with Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody) and the children’s fantasy comedy "Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium", where she played in actor’s duet with Dustin Hoffman.
In 2008, the period costume drama "The Other Boleyn Girl" was released, which told of the era of King Henry VIII and the rivalry of the two sisters for his heart. One of the sisters was played by Natalie Portman and the second one by Scarlett Johansson. The following year, Natalie took part in the filming of the second almanac – "New York, I love you," this time not only as an actress but also as a director.
In the same period, the actress appeared in several other films in which she was interested in from the creative point of view, but did not anticipate a big box-office success. These are the melodrama "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits" (2009, with Lisa Kudrow), the drama "The Brothers" (2009, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire) and "Hesher" (2010, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rainn Wilson).
One of the brightest and unforgettable works of Natalie Portman became the role of the self-denying and neurotic ballerina Nina Sayers in the psychological thriller by Darren Aronofsky "Black Swan" (2010). This dramatic film, which also starred Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel and Winona Ryder, was a great success at festivals and cinemas all over the world and brought the actress Oscar, Golden Globe, Saturn, and The Screen Actors Guild for the Best Actress in a leading role.
For this work, Natalie Portman, like her colleague and friend Mila Kunis, had to noticeably lose weight and spend a considerable amount of time on learning the academic dance in order to look convincingly in the image of a ballerina. As opposed to the difficult role in the "Black Swan", the following year Natalie starred in two more "light" films: the romantic comedy "No Strings Attached" (2011, in partnership with Ashton Kutcher) and the fantasy comedy "Your Highness" (2011 ).
Another top-grossing film with Portman participation was a fantastic thriller "Thor" (2011) and its sequel, "Thor 2: The Dark Kingdom Stream" (2013) by Marvel comics, where Natalie played the "earthly" girl of Scandinavian god (portrayed by Chris Hemsworth), astrophysicist Jane Foster. Despite the financial success of the films, Portman refused to participate in the third part of the franchise and broke the contract with the studio.
Later, she played the main roles in the fantasy melodrama "Knight of the Cups" (2015) and the western "Jane got a gun" (2016). Particular attention was drawn to the biographical drama "Jackie" (2016), where Portman brilliantly played Jacqueline Kennedy. The role of the famous first lady brought the actress nomination for Oscar and Golden Globe. In recent years, Natalie starred in the drama "Planetarium" (2016) with Lily-Rose Melody Depp and musical melodrama "Song to Song" (2017) featuring Ryan Gosling.
In addition, in 2015, Portman made her debut as director of the feature film "A Tale of Love and Darkness", which tells the story of the family of the famous writer Amos Oz.
Beliefs and social activitiesNatalie Portman is a dedicated protector of animals and vegan. During pregnancy, Portman again began to eat eggs and dairy products.
Later, she made a documentary film "A Tale of Love and Darkness", in which she described the negative aspects of industrial cattle breeding. For this work in 2017, Natalie was awarded "Environmental Media Association" ("Environmental Media Association").
Natalie also does not wear clothes and shoes made with the use of leather, fur, and feathers, and in 2007 she launched her own line of footwear made without the use of animal materials.
Despite the fact that the actress actively deals with her children, she does not cease to star in films. For example, in 2018 the drama "The Death and Life of John F. Donovan," is released starring Kit Harington, Jessica Chastain, Kathy Bates, and Susan Sarandon along with Portman, as well as the science fiction film "Annihilation", in which she performs the leading role.
Besides, in 2017 the actress was awarded Genesis Prize, which is quite often called Jewish Nobel, but soon after the announcement Portman declined the invitation to the ceremony thus refusing to take the award. By the way, Natalie would be awarded "for her commitment to the Jewish people and Jewish values" and she was going to fund half of the prize money ($1 million) in aid of women all over the world.
Personal life of Natalie PortmanFor a long time, Natalie Portman preferred not to dedicate the press to her personal life. Periodically tabloid reports told that she was dating the actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Jake Gyllenhaal, frontman of Maroon 5 Adam Levine, or even a member of the famous clan of multibillionaires Nat Rothschild – but whether it is true or not is still unknown.
In 2006, the actress shared her views about how she sees her future family: "I definitely would prefer to raise my children in the Jewish tradition, but the most important is to be near a good man and a true partner".
In 2007-2008, Nathalie had dated Venezuelan folk singer Devendra Banhart, and in 2009 she became acquainted with a dancer of the New York Theater Ballet Benjamin Millepied, a Jew of French origin, who was a choreographer of dance scenes in "Black Swan". The couple hid their relationship from the press for a long time, but on December 27, 2010, they officially announced that they were engaged and expecting a child.
Their son Aleph Portman-Millepied was born on June 14, 2011, and Natalie was pleased to plunge into motherhood. "If I’m not at the shooting, then I spend almost all of my time with my family", she says. "So my life revolves around the kindergarten, cooking food, children’s parties, and putting the baby to bed."
She also admits that motherhood has taught her to be more resistant to stress, which helps her, even when working in a film. On August 4, 2012, Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied officially married at the modest Jewish ceremony in California, and on February 22, 2017, their daughter Amalia was born.
Natalie Portman NowIn 2022 Natalie Portman will return as Jane Foster in ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ (the 4th part of ’Thor’). Also, she will portrayed the main character of the ’We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves’ HBO mini-series.
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