Natalie Portman Career Milestones
Birth Name: Natalie Hershlag
Birth Date: June 9, 1981
Birth Place: Jerusalem, Israel
Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem, the only child of a doctor father (from Israel) and an artist mother (from Cincinnati, Ohio), who also acts as Natalie’s agent. She left Israel for Washington, D.C., when she was still very young. After a few more moves, her family finally settled in New York, where she still lives to this day. She graduated with honors, and her academic achievements allowed her to attend Harvard.
She was discovered by an agent in a pizza parlor at the age of 11. She was pushed towards a career in modeling but she decided that she would rather pursue a career in acting. She was featured in many live performances, but she made her powerful film debut in the movie Léon (1994) (aka “Léon”). Following this role Natalie won roles in such films as Heat (1995), Beautiful Girls (1996), and Mars Attacks! (1996).
It wasn’t until 1999 that Natalie received worldwide fame as Queen Amidala in the highly anticipated US$431 million-grossing prequel Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). She then she starred in two critically acclaimed comedy dramas, Anywhere But Here (1999) and Where the Heart Is (2000), followed by Closer (2004/I), for which she received an Oscar nomination.
Natalie Portman most recently received her second Academy Award nomination and first Best Actress win for her performance in Darren Aronofsky’s critically acclaimed film, “Black Swan.” For her role, Portman also received a Golden Globe, BAFTA Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and Critics Choice Award.
Upcoming, Portman will be seen in David Gordon Green’s “Your Highness,” co-starring with Danny McBride, James Franco and Zooey Deschanel. The story focuses on an arrogant, lazy prince who must complete a quest to save his father’s kingdom, with Portman as his love interest. The Universal Pictures film is set for release April 8, 2011. Following “Thor,” she will be seen in Spencer Susser’s “Hesher,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rainn Wilson. The film, which Portman also produced, is slated for release on May 13, 2011 by Wrekin Hill / Newmarket Films.
On screen, Portman has starred in over 25 films. She made her debut in Luc Besson’s 1994 film, “The Professional,” and went on to star in “Heat,” “Beautiful Girls,” “Everyone Says I Love You,” “Mars Attacks!,” “Anywhere But Here” (Golden Globe nomination), “Where the Heart Is,” “Cold Mountain,” “Garden State,” “Closer” (Academy Award nomination and Golden Globe Award), “Free Zone,” “V for Vendetta,” “Paris je t’aime,” “Goya’s Ghosts,” “My Blueberry Nights,” “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium,” “The Other Boleyn Girl,” “New York, I Love You,” “Brothers” and “No Strings Attached.” Additionally, she starred in George Lucas’ “Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace,” “Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones,” and “Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.” The prequels to the wildly popular “Star Wars” trilogy of the ‘70s and ‘80s rank among the top-grossing films ever produced worldwide.
On stage, Portman starred in Mike Nichol’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “The Seagull,” opposite Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Philip Seymour Hoffman; as well as in James Lapine’s Broadway production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
Behind the lens, Portman has taken turns writing, directing and producing. Her credits include “Eve,” which she wrote and directed, telling the story of a young woman who ends up on her grandmother’s date. The film debuted at the 2008 Venice Film Festival and stars Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazzara and Olivia Thirlby. She also wrote and directed a short film for “New York, I Love You,” about a day in the life of a father and daughter in Central Park. The film showcases 12 filmmakers who each directed a vignette illustrating the universal theme of love within the five boroughs of New York City. Additionally, she executive-produced and starred in Don Roos’ adaptation of Ayelet Waldman’s novel “The Other Woman,” opposite Scott Cohen and Charlie Tahan. The film revolves around a young woman who tries to recover her marriage through her relationship with her stepson.
Portman is currently developing film projects through her production company, HandsomeCharlie Films. Together with producer Annette Savitch, the company is focused on finding intelligent, accessible films across varied genres, as well as female-driven comedies. Upcoming projects include The New York Times bestselling novel “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” which is set up at Lionsgate with a script by David O. Russell, and they are partnered with Plan B at Paramount to produce “Important Artifacts,” based on the book by Leanne Shapton, with Brad Pitt and Natalie Portman attached to star, and Greg Mottola to write. Completed films include “No Strings Attached,” starring Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, and directed by Ivan Reitman; and “Hesher,” starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson, and directed by Spencer Susser.
Portman became the first Ambassador of Hope for FINCA, an international village banking microfinance program providing small loans and savings programs to the world’s poorest families so they may create their own jobs, raise household incomes, and improve their standard of living, thereby reducing poverty worldwide. As the Ambassador of Hope, Portman has proved to be a globally aware and dedicated individual who supports the work of FINCA through her advocacy and visits to FINCA International programs in countries such as Guatemala, Ecuador and Uganda. She has also met with high-level United States Members of Congress to lobby for support of international microfinance funding.
A Harvard graduate with a degree in psychology, Portman has also studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she learned Arabic and Hebrew, and studied the anthropology of violence and Israeli history.