Natalie Portman is looking back on the way she was sexualized as a young teenager after skyrocketing to fame in films like Léon: The Professional and Beautiful Girls.
“I think, in that time, it was very normal,” Portman tells the Sunday Times in a new interview “Some of it was the types of roles that were being written and some of it was the way journalists felt entitled to write about it.”
One article in particular sticks out for the Oscar winner, currently starring in Thor: Love and Thunder.
“I remember reading a review of myself when I was about 13 that mentioned my breast buds,” she says.
As a response to that treatment, Portman says she “put on all these defenses," which included rejecting scripts that included sex scenes.
“It was like, I’m not going to be seen that way, because it felt like a vulnerable position and also a less respectable position, in some way, to be characterized like that,” she explains.
Now 41 and the mother of two children — Aleph, 11, and Amalia, 5 — with her husband, French dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, Portman also spoke to the U.K. publication about hitting the gym every morning at 6 a.m. to bulk up for her role as astrophysicist Jane Foster in her new Marvel movie.
“It’s pretty unusual and wonderful to be tasked with getting bigger as a woman,” says Portman, who packed on muscle for the role. “Most of the body transformations we’re asked to make are to be as small as possible and there’s an emotional and sociological correlate to that.”
Portman turned 40 while making the movie, which made her physical transformation all the more significant.
“For someone to say, ‘Let’s see how much strength you can have,’ is a completely different psychological space to inhabit,” she says, adding. "It was an incredible point in my life to say, ‘You’re going to be the fittest, strongest version of yourself.’"
Portman, is, of course, no stranger to changing her figure for a role.
“I trained really seriously for Black Swan but of course it was in the opposite direction,” she recently told Yahoo Entertainment. “It was to get as small as possible. It was also a lot of strength and a lot of technique and of course learning choreography, which is very similar to learning stunt choreography. But certainly I’ve [never been in the gym] lifting 20 pound weights to try and bulk up.”