Girl Crush: Natalie Portman

Portman in the Jan. 2010 Issue of Marie Claire

I’m glad to announce the return of Girl Crush, a weekly feature in which I discuss a leading lady in show business: talented, admirable, and successful. And for the record this series isn’t meant to objectify women, but to empower them.

Natalie Portman at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival

When I was catching up on STAR WARS a couple weeks ago, it reminded me of just how awesome Miss Natalie Portman is. The first time I saw her on-screen in Episode I: The Phantom Menace as Queen Amidala, the ruler of Naboo. Even though that movie was cringe-worthy (JarJar Binks anyone?), Padmé Amidala quickly emerged as a capable leader and a take-charge heroine. In Episodes II and III, Padmé  further developed into a smart and strong woman.

File:Padme ep1.jpg
Portman as Queen Amidala

Padmé wasn’t Portman’s first role. The Israeli-American actress, born Natalie Hershlag in Jerusalem, made her film debut at the age of 13 in The Professional. Since then, she has appeared in over twenty films, and nearly always to much critical acclaim. For her 2004 film Closer- in which she co-starred alongside Clive Owen, Jude Law, and Julia Roberts- Portman was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.

Besides her role in the STAR WARS franchise, Portman is also known for portraying Evey Hammond in the dystopian thriller V for Vendetta. She famously shaved her head for the role, showing true commitment to her craft. Natalie also played Sam, Zach Braff’s love interest in Garden State. Sam’s quirkiness set her apart from most of Portman’s characters. She is usually portrays smart and mature women, which isn’t surprising when you consider Portman attended Harvard University, graduating with a degree in psychology.

Portman is more than brains and talent. She’s a vegan and is a supporter of animal rights. In the past, Portman has campaigned for Democratic politicians. She also works tirelessly for the Foundation for International Community Assistance, which provides microloans to women in the Third World so they can build small businesses to support themselves. This all shows that she does more than lend her celebrity status to a cause- she actually acts on it.

Right now, Natalie Portman is one of Hollywood’s elite young actresses, but she remains an enigma. She effortlessly radiates beauty and class.She’s managed to stay private and focus on her career, in an ambitious but unpretentious manner. It’s only a matter of time before she becomes one of film’s brightest stars.

What do you think? Do you love Natalie Portman? Do you have any suggestions for an upcoming Girl Crush?

~ Sarah