Natalie Portman has one of the most successful careers in Hollywood today. The 35-year-old actress had countless acclaimed roles under her belt and a lot of awards to further prove just how great of an actress she is, among them is an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 2010 psychological drama Black Swan. But before she was thrust to international stardom, Portman initially established herself in the industry by becoming a child actress.
In a sit-down interview with Michelle Williams for Variety’s Actors on Actors, Natalie Portman was candid about how being a child actor helped her survive the world of show business.
Natalie Portman: “I feel that there is something around that time where you do have an instinct about what you really love”
Both Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams began their careers at age eleven. Portman got her start in several films such as Mars Attacks!, Everyone Says I Love You, and Beautiful Girls, where she received significant acclaim for her role as Marty. On the other hand, Williams starred in Lassie and got her big break in the television show Dawson’s Creek.
If there is one thing that the award-winning actresses agree on, it was that their experience in the limelight played a significant role in the careers they have today. It has also helped Natalie Portman deal with the pressure that the business brought to her as she grew up. For instance, Portman was heavily criticized for her lack of chemistry with her Star Wars co-star Hayden Christensen.
Natalie Portman: Someone was saying recently: Think about what you love when you’re 11. Adults who are feeling lost, try and regain that. And it’s funny that they pinpointed that age, because you say you started then. That’s when I started. I feel that there is something around that time where you do have an instinct about what you really love. I don’t know where it came from, because there’s no one in my family who was ever a performer. I came from such a serious, academic family, where the only thing that was acceptable was to be very literate and educated—you become a professor or a doctor or a lawyer. My dad pulled me aside when I was 25 and was like, “I think it’s time for you to go to law school or grad school.” Not that he was saying that acting was bad, but more that he was like, “I think you’ll be more fulfilled if you have something more—like a life of the mind.” So it took me a while, coming from that background, to be like, “This is what I want, and this is what I love. I enjoy this.”
The full interview can be seen on the new season of the Emmy Award–winning series Actors on Actors, which is set to have its premiere on January 3 on PBS SoCal KOCE.