Natalie Portman is an Oscar-winning, Israeli American actress known for her role in films such as ‘Black Swan,’ ‘Jackie,’ ‘Thor’ and the ‘Star Wars’ franchise.
Updated: Mar 26, 2021
Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
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, before debuting in Marvel’s Thor franchise the following year. In 2012, she married dancer Benjamin Millepied, with whom she has two children.
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.
‘The Professional,’ ‘Heat’
Portman made her film debut in Luc Besson’s memorable 1994 feature, The Professional. The demanding role, which featured her as a 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).
‘Beautiful Girls,’ ‘Everyone Says I Love You,’ ‘Mars Attacks!’
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.
Sabbatical: ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ and Harvard
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. The actress later began attending Harvard University, graduating with honors in June 2003.
Playing Queen Amidala in ‘Star Wars’
Portman returned to film in 1999, gaining international recognition for playing Queen Amidala in George Lucas’ eagerly anticipated prequel Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. Portman reprised the role in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005). Meanwhile, she was cast opposite Susan Sarandon in the film version of Mona Simpson’s novel Anwhere But Here (1999), and took on a more mature role for Where the Heart Is (2000), in which her character ages five years during the course of the film.
‘Garden State,’ ‘Closer,’ ‘V for Vendetta,’ ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’
In 2004, Portman starred in the romantic comedy Garden State and delivered a Golden Globe-winning performance in Closer, directed by Mike Nichols and co-starring Clive Owen, Roberts and Jude Law. Portman also 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.
Oscar Win for ‘Black Swan’
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.
‘No Strings Attached,’ ‘Thor’
After her Oscar win, Portman appeared in the drama Hesher (2010), the romantic comedy No Strings Attached (2011) and the period comedy Your Highness (2011). The acclaimed actress also threw herself into superhero fare as the female lead in Thor (2011) and the sequel Thor: The Dark World (2013). In 2019, it was announced that Portman would replace erstwhile star Chris Hemsworth and take over as the titular goddess for the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder.
Award Nominations for ‘Jackie’
After starring in Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups (2015) and the western Jane Got a Gun (2016), Portman dug into a highly publicized role with the biopic Jackie (2016), 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 the film.
The actress was thrust into a “whitewashing” controversy after signing on for an adaptation of the sci-fi horror novel Annihilation (2018). 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 sounded “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.”
‘Vox Lux,’ ‘Lucy in the Sky’
Later in 2018, Portman took on another attention-grabbing role in Vox Lux, as a school shooting survivor who becomes an unstable pop diva. The following year, she co-starred with Jon Hamm in Lucy in the Sky, based loosely on the real-life story of astronaut Lisa Nowak’s personal problems after returning from space.
Husband and Children
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.
- Name: Natalie Portman
- Birth Year: 1981
- Birth date: June 9, 1981
- Birth City: Jerusalem
- Birth Country: Israel
- Gender: Female
- Best Known For: Natalie Portman is an Oscar-winning, Israeli American actress known for her role in films such as ‘Black Swan,’ ‘Jackie,’ ‘Thor’ and the ‘Star Wars’ franchise.
- Education and Academia
- Theater and Dance
- Harvard University
We strive for accuracy and fairness.If you see something that doesn’t look right,contact us!
- Article Title: Natalie Portman Biography
- Author: Biography.com Editors
- Website Name: The Biography.com website
- Url: https://www.biography.com/actors/natalie-portman
- Access Date:
- Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
- Last Updated: March 26, 2021
- Original Published Date: April 3, 2014