Few actresses can say that they started out as child performers working with some of the best talent and grew up to win an Oscar and Harvard degree while starring in the two most successful and influential franchises in film history. Again, not every actress is Natalie Portman. Widely regarded as one of Hollywood’s most brilliant actresses, Portman became a well-known name in her teens, successfully transitioning to adulthood and college life without falling into some of the business’s pitfalls and pitfalls.
There’s something about Portman that makes her unique among her peers, an unexpected but somehow unsurprising maturity mixed with palpable and shameless vulnerability that became evident from her first on-screen appearance in Luc Besson’s battle drama. Léon: The Professional. Portman never chose the expected roles, actively pursuing projects that reflected her unique feminist attitude, even as a young performer. The perfect combination of independent dramas and major hits became the trademark of her early years, leading the way for the second stage of her career, which finds her main and center in every project, taking her place as one of the most respected and bankable actresses. of Hollywood. .
The childhood part of Portman’s career is best represented by two roles that have proven her versatility and intensity as an actress. First, Léon: The Professional shows the maturity that has always distinguished her performances. Like Mathilda, Portman conveys a genuine tragedy without seeming entirely discouraged. She is precocious, lively, and lively, overwhelming the film with a sense of innocence and drive that becomes the perfect antidote to Jean Reno’s simplicity and Gary Oldman’s carefree whims.
The second is Michael Mann’s crime drama Heat, which sees Portman play a small but pivotal supporting role as Al Pacino’s suicidal stepdaughter. Per Mann’s own words, Portman was a “wonder child” able to portray someone who was “severely dysfunctional without any overt hysteria.” Mann hits the nail on the head with this description, capturing the very essence of a Portman presentation. Since childhood, Portman has delivered a truly moving and moving work without succumbing to the theater, which could so easily go hand in hand with some of her roles. She is naturally capable of conveying a raw emotion, whether with one deep, piercing look, or with a verbal, involved monologue.
Take Portman’s Oscar-nominated lineup in Mike Nichols’ sex drama, Closer, probably her first truly “adult” role. Like the elusive and mystical Alice Ayres, Portman is a male fantasy come to life – a stripper with substance. Alice is openly sexual, cynical and volatile. Simplicity of mind and heart makes Alice as attractive as she is annoying, and Portman is a master at communicating this sense of wonder and fascination that makes it easy to believe that Jude Law would find her impossible to resist. Closer won Portman her first Golden Globe and first Oscar nomination; after another year, she may have even won.
In many ways, Closer was the culmination of that first stage of her career. Portman took everything she learned from years of starring wise-past-age characters in movies like Beautiful Girls, Anywhere But Hereand Where the Heart Is and delivered her most ambitious and layered performance to that point. Closer effectively changed the perceptions of Portman’s audiences; no longer was she the ultimate precocious superhero of Hollywood, but a determined young woman in control of her own path.
Because Portman didn’t always rule, especially as a child. The actress famously refused Adrian Lyne’s remake of Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel Lolita, publicly declaring that “there’s enough exploitation out there that there’s no need to do more of that.” But Portman herself, against her wishes, was a Lolita-ed of the industry and audiences who got used to seeing her as an “old soul,” an adult-child hybrid who seemed more comfortable around adults than people her age. Portman has just opened about the effects that problematic perception had on her young psyche, telling Dax Shepard that it forced her to act “conservative” and “serious” at a time when she didn’t necessarily feel safe around older men.
In a galaxy far, far away
It’s the million-dollar question every fan asks themselves: It’s the Cosmic Wars prequels actually good? The answer is much more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no”. There is real artistic value in them, but is enough to overwhelm them many defects? Portman plays a crucial role in the first two contributions, acting as the emotional catalyst that drives the plot. In many ways, she is the beating heart of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Portman, at the height of her female-child character, was the logical choice to play a young queen thrown into a war for which she is widely underprepared. The Phantom Menace portrays her as a girl and her connection with young Anakin (Hayden Christensen) is that of distant cousins reuniting and struggling for a common ground.
Then came Attack of the Clones, which Portman filmed during one of her summer breaks at Harvard. While the first film went through the effort of childbearing her, the sequel goes out of its way to portray her as a young woman, dressing her in more provocative costumes and forcing a love affair with the now fully grown Anakin. Portman does her best with the material; in her defense and Christensen’s, there’s not much on the page to sell their doomed romance. However, their chemistry is not nearly as terrible as critics at the time claimed, and while they are not Harry and Sally, they are far from Gigli and Ricki.
In all fairness, Padmé and Anakin are just as good as anyone else Cosmic Wars paro. The far, far away galaxy has never been particularly famous for its complex romances. From Han and Leia to Kylo and Rey, love is not the strong suit of the franchise. However, there is something authentic and, dare we say, significant about their connection, perhaps because it plays a more decisive role in the story than any of the other Star Wars issues. Portman returned for the last chapter in the trilogy, returning briefly for her character to die.
Cosmic Wars came at a pivotal time in Portman’s career and played an important role in its development. The new years saw the rise of modern success thanks to the change of game of Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, that of Michael Bay Transformers series, and Christopher Nolan’s new take on the Dark Knight. Star Wars was part of this revolution, showing the show and not missing a factor that would become the bread and butter of modern franchises. And Portman was at the center of it, proving she could open a movie at the box office as easily as she could win awards for it.
The queen of the swan
Yes Closer marked the end of Portman’s early career, Black Swan was the beginning of a new chapter. Directed by the master of meaningful bluntness, Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan sees Portman accept the role of the modest and perfect Nina Sayers. The actress makes a turn-of-the-force performance, embodying all of Nina’s childlike insecurity and fears without exaggerating it. In a sense, Nina is an antithesis of Portman’s career and character, an overprotected and childish figure, deformed since childhood and forced to live the dream of others. For her performance, Portman won the 2010 Oscar for Best Actress, one of the most dignified and celebrated victories of the new millennium.
Portman continued this new phase in her floral career, experimenting with other roles and genres. Some – the first Thor film and her directorial debut, A story of Love and Darkness – worked, while others – Unconditionally, the second Thor film – did not. However, critics and audiences did not give up on Portman, especially not when she was actively trying to branch out. The actress brought a sense of dignity to each of her projects, elevating even the most basic and raw films – watching you, Your Majesty.
Jackie was a triumphant return to form for Portman, especially after years of slumbering it into forgettable films. Wearing Jackie Kennedy’s bloodstained pink Chanel suit, Portman made another career best performance, bringing to life the most difficult moment in Kennedy’s life with eminent vulnerability. Beyond the accent and manners, Portman becomes Jackie in her darkest hours. Like all of her best roles, the actress finds meaning and power in the character’s quiet moments, letting audiences know that so much is happening inside Jackie, a fierce sense of chaos that competes with that outside.
Portman continued her bold exploration of her limits, starring in Alex Garland’s ambitious science fiction masterpiece. Annihilation and Brady Corbet’s musical drama Vox Lux. In his review of Vox LuxRobbie Collin de The Telegraph compared her performance with her work in Black Swan and Jackie, stating that it has “a similar audacity and extravagance that few actresses would dare to try, let alone be allowed to succeed away.” Indeed, Portman is part of a select group of performers – the world’s Isabelle Hupperts, Nicole Kidmans, Julianne Moores, and Amy Adamses, those actresses willing to take risks and leave everything in line with each performance. They become great, never at the expense of the character, and always in service of the story.
After almost 10 years of absence – except for a short cameo Avengers: Endgame – Portman returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the colorful and unbridled Taika Waititi Thor: Love and Thunder. The film’s appeal becomes immediately clear when Portman’s previously sidelined Jane Foster takes a main stage by becoming Mighty Thor. An expert in embodying the right mix between strength and vulnerability, Portman shines in the role, committing to it by increasing considerably and tuning in perfectly with Taika Waititi’s gonzora story approach. Portman’s Mighty Thor is every bit the hero Cap or Strongman, taking the place she should always have against Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder.
For nearly 30 years, Natalie Portman has delighted audiences with her soulful and layered performances, creating one unforgettable character after another. Hollywood was never afraid to allow her enough room to experiment – a privilege that not every actress gets in a city so sexist and narrow-minded – and she made the best of it. Portman never stays in her comfort zone, going from a science fiction lead lady to a dystopian rebel with as much ease as she goes from a troubled stripper to an elegant presidential wife.
Portman currently has two miniseries in the plays and will star opposite Julianne Moore in the Todd Haynes drama May December. There is no word on whether she will return for a potential fifth film in the ongoing Toro saga, but one thing is for sure: the MCU needs her more than she needs it.