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So you thought Natalie Portman was just another Hollywood actress? Wrong. The Harvard grad is a multilingual expat who now lives in Paris with her husband and son. Here are some of the things that might surprise you about the 33-year-old Oscar winner.
1. She speaks fluent Hebrew.
Portman was born in Israel and spent the first three years of her life there before moving to America. She really loves the language, which she speaks in her directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness. “The language was really what [drew me to the project, based on the Amos Oz book], his obsession with words and the way words are connected in Hebrew, which has this incredible poetry and magic,” she says.
2. She doesn’t like the Israeli prime minister.
She makes no bones about the fact she supported Israel’s Labor Party, not recently re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “I’m very much against Netanyahu,” she says. “Against. I am very, very upset and disappointed that he was re-elected. I find his racist comments horrific. However, I don’t — what I want to make sure is, I don’t want to use my platform [the wrong way]. I feel like there’s some people who become prominent and then it’s out in the foreign press. You know, shit on Israel. I do not, I don’t want to do that.”
3. She has no TV.
Since Portman moved to Paris with her husband, dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, she has been TV-free. “We really don’t have a television,” she says. “Everyone told me [to get one]. My guilty pleasure is cooking shows, and everyone was like, ‘Oh my God, just watch French Top Chef and you’re going to be fluent.’ Maybe I’ll learn how to cook.” Portman isn’t completely TV-deprived, however: She watches shows like Transparent and Broad City on the computer.
4. She says it’s time to forgive fashionista John Galliano.
The former Dior fashion designer was persona-non-grata in the fashion world after making a drunken, anti-Semitic rant. “I don’t see why not to be forgiving to someone who is, I mean, someone who’s trying to change,” she says. “However, I don’t think those comments are ever OK. I don’t forgive the comment, but … we’ve all done things that we regret.”
5. She feels like an outsider.
The actress-director has lived in Israel, New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Cambridge, Mass. She doesn’t mind the moves. “I like being a stranger in a place,” she says. “You’re kind of an outsider, and I think that’s what makes you. It’s the only way I’ve ever known.”
6. She wants more kids.
Portman has one 3-year-old son, Aleph, who’s now attending kindergarten in Paris. But she’s open to having more. “I’d be thrilled if I was lucky enough to have more,” she says.
7. She’s still trying to figure out what went wrong with Jane Got a Gun.
Portman produced the film — then lost director Lynne Ramsay days before the shoot, and subsequently saw her co-star Jude Law exit the movie. Asked why Ramsay left, she says, “I’m as mystified as I think everyone was, and it was pretty devastating. I mean, maybe she’ll speak to it one day. I don’t know. I got there one week before we were supposed to start, in Santa Fe, and it seemed like there had been stuff going on that I had sort of been sheltered from. And yeah, it was really, really difficult, and we were lucky that [director] Gavin [O’Connor] came on so quickly. She didn’t come on [set]. I saw her like the week before, but on the first day, no. I can only imagine something very difficult was going on for her, and it was devastating.”
8. She’s mad at Ryan Kavanaugh.
The head of Relativity Films added her name and email to an ultra-pro-Israel email chain discussing what was going on in the Gaza Strip. “I was very unhappy to be included in those emails, and I told Ryan so,” says Portman. “I wrote to him that I didn’t want to be part of that group. I didn’t want to be receiving those emails at all. I find them very disturbing.”
9. She’s been living in Paris since November.
“It’s been really interesting,” she says. “I’ve been to Paris so much in my life that I felt [at first] like it’s very similar, and then when you live in a place you start realizing how culturally different we are, deeply culturally different.” Asked in what way, she says: “Oh, in millions of ways. I feel like this country has a lot of religion and a lot of freedom around that; and there, the religion is almost like, love. Love and intellectualism is their sort of way.”
10. She wasn’t approached to do another Star Wars.
“No one’s contacted me about it,” she says. “I think, because I’m dead, that it kind of seals the deal, unless there are even more prequels.” She has no special plans for seeing the upcoming Episode VII: The Force Awakens, but says: “I would love to. I would love to. I’m very excited that they’re making them, of course. I think everyone is. And great people [are] doing it.” She adds: “I really liked all the people I worked with. You know, between George [Lucas] and Ewan [McGregor] and Hayden [Christensen] and Jake [Lloyd] on the first one and Ahmed [Best], who played Jar Jar, they were all wonderful. The experience was really hard for me, because I didn’t really, didn’t really understand what was going on with the blue screens and everything. I just was, you know, I was like 16 and had never done that before and I was kind of confused.”
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