Natalie Portman (born Neta-Lee Hershlag, June 9, 1981) is an actress with dual American and Israeli citizenship. Her first role was in the 1994 action thriller Léon: The Professional, opposite Jean Reno. She was later cast as Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
1. Natalie Portman was discovered at the age of 9 when a scout for Revlon approached her in a pizza parlor and asked her if she would be interested in modeling. "No, but I would like an agent," was Portman’s response. "I kept my cool," Portman later recalled. "I told him that I wanted to act."
2. Portman initially turned down the role of Ann August in Anywhere But Here (1999) because it included a love scene with actor Corbin Allred that required nudity. But Susan Sarandon, who had costar approval, refused to do the film opposite anyone other than Portman. "Natalie was cast for her intelligence and strength," Sarandon said after the film’s release. "I needed someone I could go at full force who could hold her own. When Natalie fell out, they talked about other people, but I told them I wouldn’t do it without her."A week later, to Portman’s "surprise," a revised script was sent to her door and she accepted.
3. Portman, who in 2003 graduated from Harvard University with a degree in psychology, has always been something of a bookworm, and in high school was voted "Most Likely to Appear on Jeopardy," which she later claimed was "code for nerdy." Recalling her pre–Ivy League education: "I went to public school in Long Island. The girls I went to school with had Prada bags and flat-ironed hair. People didn’t pay much attention to the fact that I was an actress. I was known for having a backpack bigger than I was, and always having Wite-Out on my hands."
4. Perhaps nothing, not even Harvard, could have prepared Portman for her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan (2010), for which she lost roughly 20 pounds, trained up to 16 hours a day, and suffered numerous injuries, including a dislocated rib. "There were some nights that I thought I literally was going to die," she said.