Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman Biography

Actress Natalie Portman won the 2010 Academy Award for her portrayal of a troubled ballerina in Black Swan.

Who Is Natalie Portman?

Born in Israel in 1981, actress Natalie Portman grew up on Long Island, New York, and began modeling at age 11. Her film debut was in The Professional (1994), and she was cast as Queen Amidala in the Star Wars prequels. While continuing her career, Portman earned a degree in psychology from Harvard University. She won the 2010 Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a troubled ballerina in Black Swan. In 2012, she married dancer Benjamin Millepied, with whom she has two children. Portman received another Oscar nomination for her portrayal of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the biopic Jackie (2016). 

Early Life

Natalie Portman was born on June 9, 1981 in Jerusalem, Israel. While she was a toddler, Portman's parents immigrated to the United States. They first lived in Washington D.C., and then settled in Long Island, New York, where Natalie attended Syosset High School.

While at a local pizza parlor, Portman was discovered by a representative of Revlon cosmetics, who encouraged the 11-year-old to pursue a modeling career. However, Portman found modeling mundane, and decided to direct her efforts toward acting. Shortly after, she began working with the Usdan Theatre Arts Camp, where she appeared in a number of local productions.

Portman made her film debut in Luc Besson's memorable 1994 feature, The Professional. The demanding role, which featured her as hitman's apprentice, caught the attention of critics and audiences. The following year, her fame grew with a brief but captivating performance as Al Pacino's troubled daughter in Heat (1995).

Career Breakthrough

In her subsequent film projects, Portman held her own alongside Hollywood's A-list actors and directors. Ted Demme's heartwarming film Beautiful Girls (1996) featured Portman in a pivotal role as a coming-of-age pre-teen. She was noted for her charming performance, opposite an impressive cast, including Matt Dillon, Timothy Hutton, Uma Thurman, and Lauren Holly. Later that year, she took on lighter parts in Woody Allen's musical Everyone Says I Love You, with Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts; and in Tim Burton's sci-fi comedy Mars Attacks!, with Jack Nicholson and Glenn Close.

After turning down the controversial role of Lolita, Portman took a brief sabbatical from the big screen. In 1997, she spent a year on Broadway in the title role of The Diary of Anne Frank. The play was a critical success, and Portman was credited with delivering a fresh interpretation of Anne Frank's character.

She returned to film in 1999, gaining international recognition playing Queen Amidala in George Lucas' eagerly anticipated prequel Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. Later that same year, she was cast opposite Susan Sarandon in the film version of Mona Simpson's novel Anwhere But Here. In Where the Heart Is (2000), Portman took on a more mature role, in which her character ages five years during the course of the film.

Film Roles

In spite of her burgeoning film career, Portman remained adamant about her education, graduating with honors from Harvard University in June 2003.

Portman reprised her role as Queen Amidala in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). Portman starred in the romantic comedy Garden State in 2004. In 2005, she won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Closer, directed by Mike Nichols and co-starring Clive Owen, Julia Roberts and Jude Law.

Portman won critical praise for her role in 2006's dystopian fantasy V for Vendetta. In 2008 she starred in historical drama The Other Boleyn Girl alongside Scarlett Johansson.

Portman's next big role came in 2010, when she portrayed a ballerina who is obsessed with her art in Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. Portman reportedly lost 20 pounds and went through rigorous dance training for the film, which was a critical success. She won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Actress for the role.

After her Oscar win, she appeared in the drama Hesher (2010), the romantic comedy No Strings Attached (2011), the period comedy Your Highness (2011), and the superhero action films Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013). In 2015 she starred in Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups, and the following year she appeared in Jane Got a Gun and the biopic Jackie, in which she portrayed First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy following the assassination of her husband president John F. Kennedy. Portman received Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for her role in Jackie.

The actress was thrust into a "whitewashing" controversy after signing on for an adaptation of the sci-fi horror novel Annihilation, set for a 2018 release. In the book, Portman's character is of Asian descent, although that information isn't revealed until the sequel. Insisting she wasn't aware of her character's lineage, Portman noted that the casting issue "does sound problematic," adding, "We need more representation of Asians on film, of Hispanics on film, of blacks on film, and women and particularly women of color, Native Americans. ... And I hope that begins to change, because I think everyone is becoming more conscious of it, which hopefully will make change." 

Personal Life

Portman started dating ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied in 2009, after meeting on the set of Black Swan. In 2010 the couple announced their engagement, and on June 14, 2011, Portman gave birth to their first child, Aleph Portman-Millepied. Portman and Millepied wed in August 2012. According to People magazine, the wedding was attended by several celebrities, including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Macaulay Culkin. Portman gave birth to their second child, daughter Amalia, on February 22, 2017.

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