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Natalie Portman Reveals She Was Scared Of ”Older Men” In Hollywood

today12 December 2020

Background

Natalie Portman began her acting career at the ripe age of 12 years old, with a role as a hitman’s protégée in Léon: The Professional. Five years later, she became a household name when she snagged the role of Padmé Amidala in Star Wars: Episode 1—The Phantom Menace, meaning that her face and voice were just about everywhere in her teen years. 

 

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Chatting with fellow actor dax Shepard on podcast Armchair Expert, the A-list star was asked what those years of being—forgive the phrasing—drooled over by Hollywood audiences at such a young age, and Natalie doesn’t hold back from admitting how that early sexualization shaped her life. 

When you’re told that “sexy” is what adult men want you to act like when you’re 15 years old, it can be very hard to form a healthy sense of adult sexuality in the years that follow, Natalie explains. And for that matter, it can be equally hard to feel like “sexy” is something you’re even interested in being.

 

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“I was definitely aware of the fact that I was being portrayed—mainly in the kind of journalism around when the movies would come out—as like this Lolita figure,” the actress tells Shepard about seeing herself in this sexualized reflection when she was younger. Natalie knows that her thinking was misguided, but also recognizes the self-protection she was trying to give herself from the onslaught of sexual attention. 

The 39-years-old was exposed to a sexualized image of herself before she’d ever defined sexuality on her own terms, associating being sexy with a sense of powerlessness and violation, of being preyed on as a young star by an older man. To be found sexy was to feel unsafe for young Natalie, and so she bolstered her persona and career with as many serious, non-sexual facets as she could to avoid it.

 

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Only in recent years has Natalie felt the freedom to express herself more on her own terms—but the way she articulates this feeling of being trapped as a young woman will resonate with adolescent girls everywhere who are confused by the messages they’re getting about sexuality. Hail Queen. 

Written by: Aqilah Najwa


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