18 Things to Know About Jewish Actress Natalie Portman

Who else remembers the 2006 SNL Digital Short "Natalie Raps"?

Pardon our language, but Jewish actress Natalie Portman is a badass bitch.

Born in Jerusalem to Jewish parents (her maternal side is from Austria and her father’s side is from Poland), Natalie is descended from Holocaust survivors. (Her great-grandparents perished in concentration camps.) With that possibly spurring her on, Natalie has absolutely made the most out of her life. She’s not just an award-winning actress — she’s also a writer, scholar, director and a mom!

Without further ado, here are 18 things to know about Natalie Portman:

1. Natalie was born on her mother’s birthday, June 9. According to a 2002 Rolling Stone profile, this puts her conception on her father’s birthday. Natalie told her parents: “This is the grossest piece of information I’ve ever learned.”

2. Her real name isn’t actually Natalie Portman, but Neta-Lee Hershlag. Portman is her maternal grandmother’s maiden name. In 1984, Natalie and her family immigrated to the United States from Israel when she was only 3 years old.

3. Her first movie, “Léon: The Professional,” premiered when she was only 12. Natalie admits she struggled in the aftermath of the film’s premiere: “In hindsight, I’m really proud of that film though at the time it was unnerving to find myself being suddenly looked upon as a sexual object when I was still only 12.”

Check out the trailer here:

4. She grew up in Long Island, New York and attended Jewish day school at Solomon Schecter in Glen Cove, New York. She entered the Intel Science Talent Search (ahem, cool nerd alert) in high school and graduated from Syosset High School in 1999. Her three best friends are still her best friends from Syosset.

5. Upon winning the 2018 Genesis Prize (basically, the Jewish Nobel Prize), Natalie said, “I am proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage; they are crucial parts of who I am.

Interestingly, Natalie refused to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony. Click here to find out why!

6. She is married to Benjamin Millepied, a French ballet dancer who was the choreographer for “Black Swan.” Natalie and Benjamin have two children: Aleph and Amalia.

Embed from Getty Images

7. Like all of us here at Hey Alma, Natalie admits to a deep love for hummus, telling Vogue: “I consume my own weight in hummus every day.” But clearly hummus makes her smart (not like the popular song “Humous Metamtem by Nigel Addmore would make you think).

8. Natalie is not just an actress: She is a legit scientist. Her published paper (under Natalie Hershlag) is titled “Frontal lobe activation during object permanence: data from near-infrared spectroscopy.” We don’t know what that means, but it definitely sounds smart.

natalie portman thank you

9. She graduated from Harvard in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, saying, “I don’t care if [college] ruins my career. I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”

10. She returned to Harvard in 2015 to deliver the commencement address, sagely telling graduates that no college experience is perfect: “It’s easy now to romanticize my time here, but I had some very difficult times here, too.” She was honest and open about her struggles, how overwhelmed she felt, and her imposter syndrome. A.K.A. she gave the commencement address that said exactly what college graduates need to hear: “If your reasons are your own, your path, even if it’s a strange and clumsy path, will be wholly yours, and you will control the rewards of what you do by making your internal life fulfilling.”

11. In 2004, she starred in a movie that is the pinnacle of American Jewish neurosis: “Garden State.” (Alongside Zach Braff!)

12. Do you remember her SNL Digital Short from 2006, “Natalie Raps”? No? Re-watch ASAP: 

And what about “Natalie Raps 2” from 2018??

13. Her directing debut came when she adapted Amos Oz’s memoir “A Tale of Love and Darkness.” Portman plays Amos’s mother, and made the choice to film in Hebrew: “It’s got to be a love letter in Hebrew.”

14. Shortly after her directorial debut, the New York Times published the emails between Natalie and Jonathan Safran Foer (were you hoping to forget about these? Us too).

But Natalie’s self-reflectiveness shined through: “An ex-boyfriend of mine used to call me ‘Moscow,’ because he said I was always looking out the window sadly, like ‘Moscow,’ like some Russian novel or Chekhov play….I have that longing, yearning, it’s-better-over-there tendency…”

15. 2016 was a big year for Natalie! Critics raved about her performance in “Jackie,” and personally we think Natalie was perfect as JFK’s widow. When she re-created scenes of Jackie’s White House tour, I swear, you cannot tell them apart. Natalie told the Los Angeles Times that she rehearsed “the first lady’s televised 1962 White House tour so many times that she could say it in her sleep.” (She should’ve won the Oscar!! Sorry, Emma Stone.)

16. Her book “Natalie Portman’s Fables” came out in 2020! Let’s have a story time, courtesy of Natalie, shall we:

17. She’s starring in the film “Thor: Love and Thunder” as THOR!! And, of course, the movie is directed by Māori Jewish director Taika Waititi.

Natalie was really excited to work with Waititi. “His other work, too, has impressed me so much over the years and how he’s able to blend the silly and the profound, all with a distinctive visual style,” Portman told the New York Times. “Everything in his films always feels spontaneous and hilarious and full of heart.

Taika Waititi
Director Taika Waititi presents Natalie Portman with Thor’s Hammer (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

18. Last, some wise words of self-care advice from Natalie: “Give yourself a break – literally and figuratively. We all hold ourselves to such a high standard and it’s a constant balancing act. If you have one bad day, don’t let it define you. There’s always tomorrow. I also think it’s important to carve out time for yourself. It’s easy to forget that but it’s so important.”

Natalie, we will absolutely take your advice.

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