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Tuesday, May 3,2011

Natalie Portman

By Liz Sterling
According to Natalie Portman, "To get a real deep, nuanced understanding of human behavior, art is the best way." How wonderful that Portman is showing off the multiple sides of her talent and human nature with all the different roles she’s played this year –Black Swan, No Strings Attached, Your Highness and yet another interesting role in Thor, which hits theaters on May 6, 2011.

The biggest role of Portman’s life is arriving any day now, when she gives birth to her first child. Happy Mother’s day, Natalie! "I have always kept my private life private, but I will say that I am indescribably happy and feel very grateful to have this experience of being engaged to and pregnant with Black Swan choreographer, Benjamin Millepied’s baby."

Portman is a Harvard graduate who has a clear head on her shoulders, high personal standards and an internal compass that steers her to live authentically. "I was especially fascinated by memory studies, in school. There was one that requested people’s good and bad memories, and then checked them for content. But non- pathological people, people who maintain a happy, healthy brain, couldn’t provide negative memories. They’d say, ‘But I learned this from the experience;’ they’d turn their negative memories into positive ones."

Born in Jerusalem, Israel, as the only child of a doctor father (from Israel) and an artist mother (from Cincinnati, Ohio), who also acts as Natalie’s agent, Natalie left Israel for Washington, DC, when she was three. After a few more moves, her family finally settled in New York. "My grandfather was a Polish Jew and a socialist, she reported, "And as a youngster he helped to organize special camps to teach agriculture to all the young men that were moving to Israel, where in 1930, they created the first kibbutz. My contemporaries in Israel have a love for life that’s amazing. There, there is not the luxurious and rich existence of material goods of Hollywood films. Every day they struggle to survive, but they still have an enthusiasm difficult to find elsewhere.”

Portman was discovered by an agent in a pizza parlor at the age of 11 and was guided towards a career in modeling but decided she would rather pursue a career in acting. "In seventh grade", she reflected, "I cried every single day when I came back from shooting The Professional, her powerful film debut, because my friends were not my friends. They were saying, ‘She thinks she’s so hot now,’ things like that, and it was the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through. I believe", she continued, "The moment you buy into the idea you’re above anyone else is the moment you need to be slapped in the face." Portman was featured in many performances after The Professional when she won roles in such films as Heat, Beautiful Girls, and Mars Attacks!

It wasn’t until 1999 that Natalie received worldwide fame as Queen Amidala in the prequel Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom>> >>Menace. Thereafter, she starred in two critically acclaimed comedy dramas, Anywhere But Here and Where the Heart Is, followed by Closer, for which she received an Oscar nomination and V for Vendetta, one of the roles which brought the star to a higher level of notoriety when she won a Constellation Award for Best Female Performance, and a Saturn Award for Best Actress. In 2011, Portman won the Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award, the Screen Actors Guild Award, and the BAFTA Award for her lead performance as Nina in Black Swan. Natalie has a clear perspective of herself and her abilities. "I’m the anti-Method actor," she says. "As soon as we finish a scene, I need to go back to being myself, because it freaks me out. There were some nights though, when shooting Black Swan that I thought I literally was going to die. It was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of take you down."

This past January, she became the new face of Dior in the Miss Dior Cherie ad campaign. On February 27, 2011, a video of top Dior designer, John Galliano, going on an anti-Semitic rant in Paris surfaced online. Portman released a statement condemning Galliano’s actions, specifying she was "shocked and disgusted," and as a proud Jewish woman refused to associate herself with him from that point on. Since the Miss Dior Cherie ad campaign was set to officially launch two days after the video surfaced, Dior was forced to take legal action to work out a settlement in order to keep Portman as a spokesperson. Galliano was fired on March 1, 2011 and the ad campaign launched as originally planned.

"As I look back on my life so far," Portman concludes, "I had this false image of myself. I was who everyone else - my parents, my friends, society - wanted me to be. I was a pleaser, someone who wanted to make everyone happy, to not let anyone down. Now, I’m not like that."

With motherhood fast approaching, Natalie Portman will have an opportunity to learn about life from an entirely new perspective. If art enables us to realize the truth, living life authentically does too.

 

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