Portman was born on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, Israel.
The daughter of an infertility specialist and an artist,
Natalie (who uses her grandmother's maiden name in order
to protect her privacy) left Israel at the age of 3 and
relocated with her family to Maryland, Connecticut, and
finally to Long Island, New York, where her parents
Discovered by a modeling scout at a New York pizza
parlor at the age of 11, Natalie was not motivated by
modeling and wanted to find a more fulfilling job.
Although she had no initial desire to become an actress,
Natalie developed an interest in performing after
attending the Stagedoor Manor Performing Camp for three
Her first acting experiences came from her summers at
Stagedoor Manor, where she was cast in theater
performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Cabaret, Anne
of Green Gables (in the title role), and Tapestry.
Natalie in the professional
Natalie's film career started with her role in the 1994
film, The Professional (a.k.a. Leon), as a hit-man's
protégée. The following year, she appeared in the crime-drama
Heat, alongside heavy hitters Al Pacino and Robert De
Niro, and was noticed in the 1996 film, Beautiful Girls,
stealing the screen from another beautiful actress, Uma
Her role in Beautiful Girls garnered rave reviews for
Natalie, and that same year she could be seen in the
Woody Allen star-studded musical, Everyone Says I Love
You, as well as Mars Attacks!
After having turned down roles in movies like Lolita (due
to her feeling that young actors should not be exposed
to sex at such a young age) and the role of Juliet in
William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (because of the age
difference between Portman and Leonardo DiCaprio),
Natalie refused the supporting role in The Horse
Whisperer, opting instead to star as Anne Frank in the
Broadway production of The Diary of Anne Frank. She was
nominated for a Tony award for her performance.
Natalie in Star wars
But the role that turned Natalie into more than a
Broadway/film actress is that of Queen Padmé Amidala, in
the first Star Wars prequel. Her three-film contract,
which started with 1999's Star Wars: Episode I - The
Phantom Menace, has transformed her into a historic film
character. Ironically, Natalie had never even seen the
original three Star Wars movies before being cast by
Natalie's graduation from Syosset High School took place
the same summer that the much-hyped prequel was released.
After her role in Phantom Menace, Natalie co-starred
with Susan Sarandon in Anywhere But Here (1999), and
starred in the lead role alongside Ashley Judd in the
film adaptation of Where the Heart Is (2000).
Natalie in Closer
Her next projects were Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of
the Clones (2002), Cold Mountain (2003), Garden State
(2004), and True (2004). In 2004, she wowed audiences in
Closer, co-starring Jude Law, Julia Roberts and Clive
Owen. She took home a Golden Globe for Best Supporting
Actress (in Closer) and was nominated for an Academy
Award in the same category for this role.
Trilingual (Natalie speaks Hebrew, English and Japanese)
and having aspirations of becoming a doctor, Natalie
studied psychology at Harvard University and is
currently studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem
while filming Free Zone (due for release in 2005). In
2005, she will also appear as Senator Amidala/Padmé
Naberrie-Skywalker in the third installment of the Star
Wars prequel series, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.
Her other 2005 credits include V for Vendetta, The
Smoker and Paris, je t'aime.
Often referred to as "the new Audrey Hepburn," Natalie
surely has a bright film career ahead of her... if she
decides to remain an actress, that is.