About Natalie Hershlag
She is an Israeli-American actress. Her first role was as an orphan taken in by a hitman in the 1994 French action film Léon (known in the United States as The Professional). During the 1990s, Portman had major roles in films like Beautiful Girls and Anywhere but Here, before being cast for the role as Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. In 1999, she enrolled at Harvard University to study psychology while she was working on the Star Wars films. She completed her bachelor's degree in 2003.
In 2001, Portman opened in New York City's Public Theater production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, alongside Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In 2005, Portman received an Academy Award nomination for Best supporting actress as well as a Golden Globe Award for the drama Closer. She shaved her head and learned to speak with an English accent for her starring role in V for Vendetta (2006), for which she won a Constellation Award for Best Female Performance, and a Saturn Award for Best Actress. She played leading roles in the historical dramas Goya's Ghosts (2006) and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008). In May 2008, she served as the youngest member of the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival jury. Portman's directorial debut, Eve, opened the 65th Venice International Film Festival's shorts competition in 2008.
Portman was born in Jerusalem, Israel. Her father, Avner Hershlag, is an Israeli doctor specializing in fertility and reproduction (reproductive endocrinology). Her mother, Shelley Stevens, is an American homemaker who now works as her agent. Portman's maternal ancestors were Jews from Austria and Russia, and her paternal ancestors were Jews who immigrated to Israel from Poland and Romania. Her paternal grandfather's parents died in Auschwitz, and her Romanian-born great-grandmother was a spy for the British during World War II.
Portman's parents met at a Jewish student center at Ohio State University where her mother was selling tickets. They corresponded after her father returned to Israel, and were married when her mother visited a few years later. In 1984, when Portman was three years old, the family moved to the United States, where her father received his medical training. The family first lived in Washington, D.C., where Portman attended Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, but relocated to Connecticut in 1988, and then settled permanently in Long Island, New York, in 1990. Portman has said that although she "really love[s] the States... my heart's in Jerusalem. That's where I feel at home." She is an only child and very close to her parents, who are often seen with her at her film premieres.
Portman, who has been a vegetarian since childhood and became a vegan in 2009 after reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, is an advocate for animal rights. She does not eat animal products or wear fur, feathers, or leather. "All of my shoes are from Target and Stella McCartney," she has said. In 2007, she launched her own brand of vegan footwear.
In 2007, Portman traveled to Rwanda with Jack Hanna, to film a documentary titled Gorillas on the Brink. Later, at a naming ceremony, Portman named a baby gorilla Gukina, which means "to play."Portman has been an advocate of environmental causes since childhood, when she joined an environmental song and dance troupe known as World Patrol Kids. She is also a member of the One Voice movement.
Portman was involved with the 2004 presidential campaign of Democratic candidate John Kerry and has supported antipoverty activities. In 2004 and 2005, she traveled to Uganda, Guatemala, and Ecuador as the Ambassador of Hope for FINCA International, an organization that promotes micro-lending to help finance women-owned businesses in poor countries. In an interview conducted backstage at the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia and appearing on the PBS program Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria, she discussed microfinance. Host Fareed Zakaria said that he was "generally wary of celebrities with fashionable causes," but included the segment with Portman because "she really knew her stuff."In the "Voices" segment of the April 29, 2007, episode of the ABC Sunday Morning Program This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Portman discussed her work with FINCA and how it can benefit women and children in Third World countries. In fall 2007, Portman visited several university campuses, including Harvard, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Princeton, New York University, and Columbia, to inspire students with the power of microfinance and to encourage them to join the Village Banking Campaign to help families and communities lift themselves out of poverty.
In 2010, Portman's activist work and popularity with young people earned her a nomination for VH1's Do Something Awards, which is dedicated to honoring individuals who do good and is powered by Do Something, an organization that aims to empower, celebrate, and inspire young people.
During the 2008 Democratic primaries, Portman supported Senator Hillary Clinton for president, but said "I also like Obama. I even like McCain. I disagree with his war stance—which is a really big deal—but I think he's a very moral person."She later campaigned for Obama during the general election.
On the concept of the afterlife, she comments: "I don't believe in that. I believe this is it, and I believe it's the best way to live."She has said that she feels more Jewish in Israel and that she would like to raise her children in the Jewish religion: "A priority for me is definitely that I'd like to raise my kids Jewish, but the ultimate thing is to have someone who is a good person and who is a partner."
In the May 2002 issue of Vogue, Portman called actor/musician Lukas Haas and musician Moby her close friends. After starring in the video for his song "Carmensita," she began a relationship with American folk singer Devendra Banhart that ended in September 2008. She began dating ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied in 2009 after they met on the set of Portman's film Black Swan, for which Millepied acted as choreographer.
Natalie Portman's Timeline
June 9, 1981
August 4, 2012
Big Sur, California, United States