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ELLE interview: Actress Natalie Portman

Academic, star, actress and mother, Natalie Portman, sits down with ELLE Canada to discuss how she does it all.

By
Louise Loftus
Photography
Frederic Auerbach for Christian Dior Parfums
(4 people)
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ELLE interview: Actress Natalie Portman

We're sitting in a darkened auditorium in the House of Dior, which is just off the tree-lined Avenue Montaigne in west Paris. The day is sunny, but the room is windowless and movie-theatre dark. We're all waiting for Natalie Portman.

After a long delay and an even longer introduction, our first view of Portman is typical of her red-carpet appearances: She strides onto the stage in a full-skirted black gown, all gamine beauty, tiny waist, impossible lace heels and hair pinned up in retro soft curls. She sits stiffly upright on the gently lit stage furnished to look like a '50s hotel suite, radiating starriness and Hepburn-esque beauty.

She's here to talk about her work with Free the Children, a charity engaged in empowering children in developed and developing countries. Portman is particularly interested in girls' education.

"It's an amazing way to tackle the origin of so many problems in the world," she says, rhyming off statistics on girls' education like a weathered politician.

Then cut to the following day, in Portman's suite at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée, where we meet after a wait owing to a "baby emergency." Amid the chatter and bustle, I look up and suddenly the actress is sitting in front of me, having made a considerably-less-assuming entrance than the previous day.

Today she is wearing a simple black blouse and jeans and sipping Diet Coke. She's still undeniably beautiful, radiating good health, but now she seems approachable and open. "I'm from the Midwest," she says by way of explanation. "We talk to people in the street."

The past few years have brought huge change to Portman's life. Since her 1994 breakout role in Luc Besson's Léon: The Professional at the tender age of 13, she has enjoyed a varied and solid career-including some of her major blockbuster successes, like her turn as Queen Amidala in the Star Wars franchise.

But Portman's role in 2010's Black Swan as the destructively driven and unstable prima ballerina generated immediate Oscar buzz and flung her together with Benjamin Millepied, the French choreographer who took her through her gruelling paces for the part. The pair announced their engagement shortly before Millepied squired her to the Academy Awards in February 2011, where a heavily pregnant Portman accepted the Best Actress statue.

Find out what actress Natalie Portman loves to wear most of all when not on the red carpet on the next page...

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