Natalie Portman Has Busy Week in Cannes

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She has played fairly diverse roles in her career, such as portraying a delicate Anne Frank as a child on stage, teen Queen Amidala in Star Wars, a head-shaved freedom fighter in V is for Vengeance, an Oscar-winning turn as a mentally ill ballerina in Black Swan, or the lead in the cheesy rom-com No Strings Attached. The diverse roles Natalie Portman displayed during a busy week in Cannes, however, show how the former child actress has grown and matured into a multi-faceted international icon as an adult.

During the first few days of the 69th Cannes Film Festival, Portman’s roles included actress, director, screenwriter, deal maker, supportive wife and red carpet couture queen. On Wednesday, the 33-year-old Portman looked elegant, clad in a strapless Dior gown, on the arm of husband Benjamin Millepied at the opening night events for the 2015 festival.

Officially, the evening was her husband’s turn to shine. The opening ceremony of the festival included a four-minute dance performance by L.A. Dance Project, inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Vertigo, which was choreographed by Millepied, a former New York City Ballet principal who is now director of the Paris Opera Ballet. While not on stage with the dancers, Millepied shined in the audience with Portman.

The next morning, an announcement was issued that Portman finalized a new movie deal, her second of the week. Thursday’s announcement was that the actress will join the long list of those who have played Jackie Kennedy. She inked a deal to star in a Jackie, a bio pic from Chilean director Pablo Larrain and that will be produced by Darren Aronofsky, who directed her in Black Swan. The film is about the days immediately following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.

A few days before, it was announced that Portman was cast as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an upcoming film. Reportedly called On the Basis of Sex, the film is about Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg’s efforts to fight for equal rights. The two film deals announced this week add to the three other movies she has already shot, and another in pre-production. The Israeli-born and New York-raised actress has clearly been busy.

Last night, one of Portman’s upcoming films was screened out of competition at Cannes. The Israeli film, A Tale of Love and Darkness, was her first feature-length directing job (she previously directed one segment in New York, I Love You and a short film). The actress wrote the screenplay and portrayed one of the main characters in the drama, which was based on an international, biographical bestselling book by Amos Oz. The film, shot in Hebrew, is about the early settlers in Israel, from when it was under British mandate through independence and beyond.

Portman has said she was attracted to Oz’s personal tale because of stories she grew up hearing from her grandparents about their lives in Europe and Israel. While reviews at Cannes were uneven (Variety said it was a dreary adaptation, but well meaning). it was clearly a personal work reflecting the actress’ determination to shoot the work. While overshown by other films at Cannes, the debut and her new film deals show that Natalie Portman has more busy weeks at the film festival in store in the future.

By Dyanne Weiss

Hollywood Reporter: Cannes: Natalie Portman to Play Jackie Kennedy in Biopic
CNN: Natalie Portman to play Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Selma Blair as Kris Jenner
Daily Mail: Back to Camelot! Natalie Portman ‘will play Jackie Kennedy in film about first four days after husband President Jack F. Kennedy was shot’
Us Magazine: Natalie Portman Will Play Jacqueline Kennedy in New Biopic Jackie
Los Angeles Times: L.A. Dance Project opens Cannes with ‘Vertigo’ homage
Variety: Cannes Film Review: ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’