If the Harvard degree on her wall, brilliant kop and incredible acting abilities wasn’t enough, Natalie Portman just gave bubbes everywhere another 100 reasons to love her. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter she opened up about her deep connection to Israel, her debut film, and why she doesn’t put her Oscar on display.
Portman was born Neta-Lee Hershlag in Israel in 1981. Over the course of her career she’s won over 40 awards, and been nominated for tens more. In 2011 she won an Oscar for Best Actress for her leading role in the psychological thriller, Black Swan. But the 33-year-old is not one to brag. When asked whether she brought it with her to Paris (the star recently relocated to Paris with her husband and 3-year-old son, Aleph) she told THR, “I don't know where it is. I think it's in the safe or something. I don't know. I haven't seen it in a while. I mean, Darren [Aronofsky] actually said to me something when we were in that whole thing that resonated so deeply. I was reading the story of Abraham to my child and talking about, like, not worshipping false idols. And this is literally like gold men. This is literally worshipping gold idols — if you worship it. That's why it's not displayed on the wall. It's a false idol."
What a mensch.
Now she’s just finished directing her feature film, an adaptation of Amos Oz's memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness. The movie will premier at Cannes Film Festival on May 18. She told THR that she was adamant about shooting in Hebrew, whatever the cost. "The language was really what [drew me], his obsession with words and the way words are connected in Hebrew, which has this incredible poetry and magic," she said. "It's obviously almost impossible to translate, but there's just incredible beauty to that. [Jews are] a people built of words, people built of books, and it's quite beautiful to see that, which is a strange thing to start for a movie."
Portman, who said she rarely watches television but prefers trips to the museum with Aleph instead, also expressed discontent in the recent election results in Israel. "I'm very much against Netanyahu. Against. I am very, very upset and disappointed that he was re-elected,” she told THR.
But she softened the criticism with a disclaimer, “I find his racist comments horrific. However, I don't — what I want to make sure is, I don't want to use my platform [the wrong way]. I feel like there's some people who become prominent, and then it's out in the foreign press. You know, shit on Israel. I do not. I don't want to do that."
And she’s the forgiving type. When asked about former Dior fashion designer John Galliano and his drunken, anti-Semitic rant she said, "I don't see why not to be forgiving to someone who is, I mean, someone who's trying to change. However, I don't think those comments are ever OK. I don't forgive the comments, but … we've all done things that we regret."
Portman took a break from her acting career to get an A.B. in psychology from Harvard. While there she served as a research assistant to law professor, Alan Dershowitz of which she said, "He has quite different politics than I do, but I really, really like him. He's a very good friend. We just have different opinions."
And with a raw honesty so unique in Hollywood, Portman admits she is not perfect and constantly working on herself. When asked about her relationship with her husband Benjamin Millepied, who is reportedly converting, the Schechter Day School alumna said, “It's like a mirror that you have to yourself, and you can see your own good behavior and bad behavior. And it's a beautiful challenge to be the best person in the mirror that you can be.”