Natalie Portman plays Alice Ayers, in the film Closer. When she isn't portraying the pathos of an abandoned, broken-hearted woman, who deals with pain by running away from it, she's an irresistible stripper in the movie.
Her cold and detached, yet undeniably sexy, stripper routine in the film transformed the perception of Natalie Portman from the thinking man's sex symbol to an absolute sex symbol. While her repertoire of films bring out the different sides of the multifaceted actor, whether it's a steely determination in V for Vendetta or a sense of haunting vulnerability in Wong Kar Wai's My Blueberry Nights, Closer clearly highlights the two major aspects of this Oscar-winning superstar - Acting genius. Check. Sexy Diva. Check.
Natalie Portman is another kind of genius too. The 'real' kind. The young actress took time off from acting to get a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Harvard. As a student, she co-authored papers that were published in scientific journals. She even went on to be a semifinalist at the Intel Science Talent Search, a prestigious competition that has been described as the 'Super Bowl of Science'. Because of her academic accomplishments, Natalie is one of the very (very, very!) few professional actors who have a finite Erdos-Bacon number, a really cool small world phenomenon measuring an individual's degrees of separation from both mathematician Paul Erdős and Kevin Bacon.
If there was a perfect combination of oompish diva and brainy genius, Natalie Portman is it! What can we say, some women are just perfect like that.
Outside the hallowed Harvard campus, of course, Natalie's sparkling genius for acting shines through in her films, like in Black Swan. She's a blazing explosion of acting talent, performing both with her heart and her head. Not to forget, the body. She's said to have practiced 8 hours a day to get the ballet dance moves right. With none other than Director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler) to inspire her, Natalie unleashed her talent. While most thought she was a frontrunner for the academy award for her role in Black Swan in 2011, some people said she would lose out to her older colleagues. They were proved wrong, of course, and she swept that evening away, and made an acceptance speech thanking a whole bunch of people, including fiancé (now husband), ballet star Benjamin Millepied, whom she calls 'my love.'
When Natalie started dating Benjamin, sometime in late 2009, he was living-in with his longtime girlfriend, Isabella Boylston, who is also a ballet dancer. Gossip mills were rife with rumors about how Portman stole Benjamin from Isabella. 'Spoilt diva who wants it all!' did we hear you say? Well, what can the girl do, Millepied is a real looker, a ballet dancer since the age of three, he's got a chiseled body and a French accent to boot!
Natalie is more than just a sex symbol, she's also an icon to many young women out there. However, over the last few years, Natalie has been more than a stellar icon, supporting many causes, including micro-finance for developing countries. Portman has traveled across Africa and other parts of the world spreading awareness about the advantages of micro-finance lending. The actress says she was first attracted to it because of her Israeli roots, as she was curious to know about its impact in Central Asia. Natalie is part of the ever-swelling numbers of beautiful Jewish women in Hollywood, including, her co-star in Black Swan, Mila Kunis, and Portman's co-star in The Other Boleyn Girl, Scarlett Johansson. The only Jewish role, Natalie has portrayed so far is on Broadway, as a child actor, she played Anne Frank. She had said at one point, "I get like 400 Holocaust scripts. That's what you get for being the openly Jewish actress!"
AT 29, Natalie Portman was a woman every man would have loved to have and then Benjamin swept her off her feet. Now at 32, she remains, of course, as desirable as ever!
Follow Preetam Kaushik on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kaushikpreetam