Natalie Portman: Life and Career

Born Natalie Hershlag, she took on her grandmother’s maiden name as her stage identity while making her film debut at the age of 13. Appearing in various small roles, she soon co-starred in 1999’s “Anywhere but Here” alongside Susan Sarandon. Applauded for her astonishing performance, she then made a major career turn as Padme Amidala in the highly anticipated Star Wars prequel trilogy. Instantly skyrocketed to mainstream recognition, she went on to star in various independent and mainstream film projects, and was eventually given an Academy Award for best lead actress for starring as a veteran ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.” Join WatchMojo.com as we take a look at the career of Natalie Portman.
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The Life and Career of Actress Natalie Portman

She’s gone from child dancer to Academy Award winning actress. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be taking a look at the career of Natalie Portman.

Born on June 9th, 1981 as Natalie Hershlag in Jerusalem, Israel, her family relocated to The United States when she was only three years old. Following several moves, they finally settled in Long Island, New York.

There, she took dance lessons from age four and performed in local troupes before a Revlon cosmetics agent asked her to become a model at only 10 years old.

Despite the opportunity, she turned it down to pursue her interest in acting. Overly ambitious and career minded at a young age, she attended theater camps and earned a role as an understudy in the Off-Broadway show “Ruthless!”

In 1994, she took on her grandmother’s maiden name, as her stage identity and landed her premiere role in the film “Leon.” Making her film debut at the age of 13 as “Natalie Portman”, she played the role of a child who befriends a hitman.

Throughout the rest of the decade she continued to land small roles in several films, including “Heat”, “Everyone Says I Love You” and “Mars Attacks!”, before securing a major role in “Beautiful Girls.”

The first choice to play Juliet in “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet”, opposite Leonardo Dicaprio, she was replaced due to her young age. Quickly recovering, she instead co-starred in 1999’s “Anywhere but Here” alongside Susan Sarandon. Applauded for her astonishing performance, she secured a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Immediately following this major career turn she was cast as Padme Amidala in the highly anticipated Star Wars prequel trilogy. Despite negative reviews of the films, the long-term project skyrocketed her to mainstream recognition.

At the same time, she took on the lead of a teenage mother in “Where The Heart Is”, and moved into the dorms at Harvard University to pursue a bachelor degree in psychology.

Focused on her studies, she would only commit to other major roles in 2004, starring in the independent movies “Garden State” and “Closer”, the latter earning her a first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting actress.

The following year she starred in the limited release Israeli film “Free Zone” and the equally low-key Spanish-American project “Goya’s Ghosts,” in which she shot her first nude scene.

In a similarly shocking turn, she then portrayed herself as an angry gangsta rapper on a 2006 episode of Saturday Night Live, and shaved her head and adopted an English accent to play Evey Hammond in “V for Vendetta.”

Next, she appeared opposite Dustin Hoffman in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, played Anne Boleyn in the historical drama “The Other Boleyn Girl”, and starred opposite Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal in the drama “Brothers.”

Despite her string of commercially successful films, she achieved her greatest honor when she was given a Golden Globe and Academy Award for best lead actress for starring as a veteran ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.”

Returning to lighter fare in 2011, she starred in the romantic comedy “No Strings Attached” and a warrior princess in the hilarious medieval fantasy adventure “Your Highness.”

She rounded out the incredible year by appearing in the highly anticipated film adaptation of the comic book hero “Thor”, where she played a scientist, and the hero’s lover Jane Foster.

An accomplished actress, this young Oscar winning Hollywood starlet is also well known as an advocate for animal rights, and continues to be a voice rallying against third-world poverty.
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