Monday, July 25, 2011

Natalie Portman

    Natalie Hershlag (Hebrew: born June 9, 1981), better known by her stage name Natalie Portman, is an actress with dual American and Israeli citizenship. Her first role was as an orphan taken in by a hitman in the 1994 French action film Léon, but major success came when she was cast as Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. In 1999, she enrolled at Harvard University to study psychology while still working as an actress. 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. In 2005, Portman received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture for the drama Closer. She shaved her head and learned to speak with a British 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 jur. Portman's directorial debut, Eve, opened the 65th Venice International Film Festival's shorts competition in 2008.
    In 2011, Portman won the Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award, the Screen Actors Guild Award, and the BAFTA Award for her lead performance as Nina in Black Swan.Portman was born in Jerusalem, Israel. She is the only child of Shelley (née Stevens), an American homemaker who works as Portman's agent, and Avner Hershlag, an Israeli citizen who is a fertility specialist and gynecologist. Portman's maternal ancestors were Jewish immigrants to the United States, from Austria and Russia (her mother's family had changed their surname from "Edelstein" to "Stevens").Her paternal ancestors were Jews who moved to Israel from Poland and Romania. Her paternal grandfather, whose parents died at Auschwitz, was an economics professor in Israel, and her Romanian-born great-grandmother was a spy for British Intelligence 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. Portman, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel,has said that although she "really love the States... my heart's in Jerusalem. That's where I feel at home."
    Portman and her family first lived in Washington, D.C., but relocated to Connecticut in 1988, and then settled on Long Island, New York, in 1990.
    In Washington, D.C., Portman attended Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. Portman learned to speak Hebrew in addition to English, and attended a Jewish elementary school, the Solomon Schechter Day School of Glen Cove, New York. She graduated from Syosset High School in Syosset, Long Island, in 1999. Portman skipped the premiere of her film Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace so she could study for her high school final exams.
    In 2003, Portman graduated from Harvard College with a B.A. degree in psychology."I don't care if [college] ruins my career," she told the New York Post,
    according to a Fox News Channel article. "I'd rather be smart than a movie star." At Harvard, Portman was Alan Dershowitz's research assistant in a psychology lab. While attending Harvard, she was a resident of Lowell House and wrote a letter to the Harvard Crimson in response to an essay critical of Israeli actions toward Palestinians.
    Portman took graduate courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the spring of 2004. In March 2006, she appeared as a guest lecturer at a Columbia University course in terrorism and counterterrorism, where she spoke about her film V for Vendetta.
    Portman has professed an interest in foreign languages since childhood and has studied French, Japanese, German, and Arabic.
    As a student, Portman co-authored two research papers that were published in scientific journals. Her 1998 high school paper, "A Simple Method to Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar," co-authored with scientists Ian Hurley and Jonathan Woodward, was entered in the Intel Science Talent Search, in which she was named a semifinalist.In 2002, she contributed to a study on memory called "Frontal Lobe Activation During Object Permanence" during her psychology studies at Harvard.

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Natalie Portman


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