Natalie Portman is, undoubtedly, one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Making her debut when she was just a child, Portman has now spent most of her life in the spotlight. According to her, she wanted this life early on. However, it took a dance class, some pizza, and a chance meeting to make her dreams the reality they are today.
How did Natalie Portman start acting?
According to her website, Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem in 1981. Born to an American mother and Israeli father, Portman claims to have had a relatively normal childhood. However, she knew early on that she was more creatively inclined than many of her friends. As such, Portman set her sights on something big, performing in dance troupes while she honed her stage skills.
One day, Portman was enjoying a slice of pizza when her life changed forever. Her bio recaps the story:
“When I was 10 [or 11] years old, after dance class, I went to a pizza parlor, and a guy from Revlon was there, and he wanted me to model for Revlon. So he introduced me to modeling agents, and I told them ‘I don’t want to model, I want to act,’ so they introduced me to acting agents.”
Before long, Luc Besson cast Portman in his classic action film Leon: The Professional as a young girl who befriends an aging assassin while learning the trade tricks. The film made her a young up-and-comer in Hollywood. While Portman followed it up with several high-profile roles in Mars Attacks and Heat, her biggest break came when George Lucas needed a young princess for his upcoming Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Going to a galaxy far away
While one might expect a young actor like Portman to enjoy her time in a series such as Star Wars, it ended up being a double-edged saber. When The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, fans quickly went from wildly excited about their favorite franchise’s origin story to irate. Still a teenager at the time, Portman had to grapple with the less-than-stellar fallout. Portman opened up about her thought process with Empire:
“It was hard … It was a bummer because it felt like people were so excited about new ones and then to have people feel disappointed. Also, to be at an age that I didn’t really understand, that’s kind of the nature of the beast. When something has that much anticipation, it can almost only disappoint.”
Portman appeared in all three films, which did well critically and financially but never sat right with the older fans. However, her role in Star Wars made her a megastar, and her career has not been the same.
A ‘Star’ is born
Portman spent the next six years not only fleshing out her Star Wars roots but turning into one of the most heavily sought-after actors in Hollywood. From acclaimed turns in films like Cold Mountain and Closer to the cult classic V for Vendetta, Portman showed that she was more than Padme. She was an actor.
From her on-again, off-again relationship with the MCU to hit blockbusters like Annihilation and an Oscar-winning turn in Black Swan. Portman remains in high demand thanks to her versatility and willingness to throw herself into any role. Twenty-two years after her Star Wars debut and nearly 30 years after she grabbed a slice of pizza, Portman remains one of the biggest actresses in Hollywood. According to IMDb, Portman will appear next in Thor: Love and Thunder, where she’ll reprise Jane Foster more substantially than she previously got to in the first two films.
Every actor has an origin story, be it an audition process or a slice of pizza. Portman’s story shows just how small the bump to stardom can be. Still, an actor of her talent typically finds a way to make it to the top, and as such, maybe Portman would have made it there regardless of the pizza. That may have just been another topping to life seemed destined for fame and accolades.
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