When it comes to universally beloved actresses who have made brilliant career moves, 29-year-old Natalie Portman seems to top the list. Over the course of just one year, she's starred in a film ("Black Swan") that earned her a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture and is sure to earn her an Oscar nod as well, will make her return to romantic comedies in this week's "No Strings Attached," and will appear in a comedic action-adventure fantasy flick ("Your Highness") that already has all her male fans drooling over her bare bottom. Oh, did we forget to mention she's also engaged and pregnant?
Natalie's career choices have been near-perfection since she landed her first major acting role at the age of 13. Though she took a bit of a hiatus from the biz to attend college (Harvard, no less), the starlet managed to come back even better than before. She's one of the most respected young actress out there, so we're taking a look back at how Natalie's pulled off such an impressive career (all before 30!).
Born in Israel as Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981, Natalie moved to the U.S. at age 3, relocating first to Washington, D.C., then to Connecticut until finally settling in Long Island, New York. It was after she moved to Long Island that she was asked by Revlon to become a child model for the cosmetics brand, but she turned it down. She got her first film role in 1994 after auditioning for Luc Besson's film "Léon (The Professional)." It earned her plenty of critical acclaim and started her film career off on the right foot.
She continued to star in a variety of popular films like "Heat," "Beautiful Girls" and "Mars Attacks!" until she earned her big break as Queen Padme Amidala in George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequel trilogy. After "The Phantom Menace"'s release in 1999, she continued to further her burgeoning leading lady status in films like "Anywhere But Here" (which earned her her first Golden Globes nomination), "Where The Heart Is" and the beloved indie "Garden State."
Natalie made the interesting decision in 2003 to attend Harvard University instead of pursuing her film career. It's not the first time she chose education over Hollywood—she skipped the "Phantom Menace" premiere so she could study for her high school finals. And it's that sort of integrity and dedication to her ideals that has earned her the respect of many, including us.
After the third "Star Wars" prequel, "Revenge of the Sith," was released in 2005, Natalie starred in another revered geek adaptation, "V for Vendetta" (personal note: my favorite movie of all time). She famously shaved her head for the role and learned a British accent, showing a marked dedication to her craft. After "V for Vendetta," she continued to star in a series of indies like "Goya's Ghosts," the kiddie flick "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium," the historical epic "The Other Boleyn Girl" and the road movie "My Blueberry Nights," continuing to build her cred as an actor.
She made her directorial debut in 2008 at age 27 with the short "Eve," which premiered in the Venice Film Festival and also ended her relationship with longtime boyfriend, musician Devendra Banhart. The year after, she starred in the critically acclaimed "Brothers" opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire.
Which brings us to the 2010 release of "Black Swan." She and director Darren Aronofsky had been planning the film for more than a decade, and it's without a doubt her most impressive performance to date. She also met her now-fiancé Benjamin Millepied on the set of the film, as he was the flick's choreographer and also appeared in a small role as her dance partner. She announced her pregnancy and their engagement in December.
After "No Strings Attached," "Your Highness" and her other flick "The Other Woman" hit theaters, Natalie will return to the comic book genre as the love interest in this summer's "Thor," which is now in post-production. She's also rumored to star in the upcoming adaptation of "Cloud Atlas," though it's in the very early stages of pre-production. We're sure she'll take a break for a while to make time for her new baby, unless she takes our recommendations for mommy-to-be film roles.
Click on any of the images above to see our entire flipbook of Natalie Portman's career highlights!
Do you love Natalie Portman as much as we do? Which of her films is your favorite?