Natalie Portman Recalls 'Unacceptable' Encounter with Producer: 'I Was Scared'
Natalie Portman is opening up about a scary encounter she had with a producer on his private plane.The Annihilation actress, who appears on the cover of PORTER’s Spring issue, told the magazine that the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have made her reexamine certain inappropriate experiences from her own past.“I went from thinking, ‘I don’t have a story’ to ‘Oh, wait, I have 100 stories,'” she explained. “And I think a lot of people are having these reckonings with themselves, of things that we just took for granted as like, this is part of the process.”
Portman recalled one experience in particular, when a producer invited her aboard his private plane. “It was just the two of us, and only one bed was made up,” she said.
“Nothing happened, I was not assaulted. I did make a point of saying, ‘This does not make me feel comfortable,’ and that was respected. But that was super not okay, you know? That was really unacceptable and manipulative. I was scared,'” she added.
Portman threw her support behind the #Time’s Up initiative at this year’s Golden Globes, when she called out the lack of female directors when presenting the Best Director award. “And here are the all-male nominees,” Portman said as the audience erupted.
“A lot of people have been speaking out for a long time and not been heard, particularly women of color, so it’s very important the industry listens,” she told PORTER.
Portman, one of the actors behind the Time’s Up initiative combatting sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood and other industries, said at the Women’s March in Los Angeles that she experienced sexual harassment at the age of 13 when her first film, 1994’s Léon: The Professional, came out.
Her first-ever piece of fan mail, she said at the event, was a rape fantasy written by a man. Her local radio show created a countdown to her 18th birthday, “euphemistically,” she told the crowd of 500,000 people, “the date that I would be legal to sleep with.” And movie reviewers would mention her “budding breasts” in reviews.
“I understood very quickly, even as a 13-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually I would feel unsafe and that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body to my great discomfort,” she said.
Portman noted that after she rejected roles with a “kissing scene,” she developed a reputation as “prudish, conservative, nerdy, serious, in an attempt to feel like my body was safe and my voice would be listened to.”
“I felt the need to cover my body and to inhibit my expression and my work in order to send my own message to the world that I’m someone worth of safety and respect,” she added. “The response to my expression, from small comments about my body to more threatening deliberate statements, served to control my behavior through an environment of sexual terrorism.”