SAG Awards: Best and Worst Dresses of All Time 2015
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So for the remainder of her school career, Portman did what an army does under fire: instituted radio silence. “If someone called me Natalie Portman I use a different name in school I would get angry, and no one was allowed to mention movies around me. Then I would go be ‘Natalie Portman’ when I was away working, and I would never want to talk about school.” The Professional a 1994 gun movie wrapped around the heart of a chaste, intergenerational romance became an international hit. A year later, Portman was cast in the ensemble not-coming-of-age comedy Beautiful Girls, a film that fixed her image in the minds of moviegoers as an eerily composed young woman whom older fellows fall in love with. Unlike, say, Kirsten Dunst, Portman was never presented as belonging to her peers; she became an idea of freshness, of grown-ups staring back at themselves before the messy turns.
In her college life which is any girl’s college life: books, roommates, running to class Portman has just finished Lolita. “It was interesting to read, because I had basically tried to so deny that whole part of it. Obviously, with The Professional and then Beautiful Girls, everyone was calling me ‘Little Lolita.’And to be categorized as that when you’re i3and trying to lead a normal life, and you’re getting fan mail solely from 40-year-old men you try and block it out.” Her parents screened the mail, but items filtered their way into Portman’s hands by a kind of sticky gravity. “It’s like if you know people are talking about you in school, you want to hear what they’re saying. I didn’t have the discipline then but I know better now.”
Portman is so graceful and poised that even when she sounds most like a kid, the effect isn’t dopey, it’s authentic: an actress skillfully inhabiting a 21-year-old. She has dated enough to know the hard adult fact that things don’t always work out; and she’s been in Hollywood enough to know that things can fail to work out on the most spectacular scale. “I sort of hope marriage is the natural thing,” she says. “But I’ve grown up working in this business, and I’ve met maybe one person who has a normal love relationship. Moving from place to place, being separated, having to enact love scenes constantly it’s the weirdest lifestyle you could possibly imagine.
Especially as a woman. With men you’ve got action movies they don’t always involve a sex scene. But basically every woman always has to have a love scene.” Portman takes a sip of water. “And some [male actors] are just golden. It’s just sinful that people can be that good-looking, that kind, and exude that sort of charisma all at once. It’s like you should disburse the wealth a little bit more. So when you’re put in a position of pretending to be in love with someone, and especially when they’re much more attractive than your average guy on the street it’s obviously gonna lead to strangeness. I mean, you may be tempted, but you don’t have to make out with the person you’re tempted with, as part of your job.” As a teenager, Portman never got offered the types of screenplays that begin INT. LOUD PARTY. “It’s sort of weird. I had a sit-down with the director. For most actors, there would follow a discussion of billing, costars, money. Being from her family, Portman had more immediate concerns. “He gave me an overview of when they’d shoot the three movies and promised me I wouldn’t have to miss any school, and he pretty much offered the part to me then.” Lucas had prepared storyboards, and in a way Portman was glancing into her future. “They’d drawn all the Queens with my features, even though I hadn’t been cast yet. I remember getting excited and thinking ‘Hey, they look like me.’” When the final installment wraps, in 2015, Portman will have spent eight years with Star Wars. “I’ll have a B.A. in Lucas,” she says.
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