Natalie Portman misses some stuff about America, like kid-friendly gyms


Natalie Portman covers the new issue (the August issue) of Harper’s Bazaar. She’s promoting Jane Got a Gun and A Tale of Love of Darkness (which she adapted and directed). The photoshoot is sort of Grace Kelly-ish, mostly because the vibe is very South of France, a la To Catch a Thief. That being said, I don’t think Natalie was served well by the editorial – she’s a beautiful woman and some of these photos are just not that great. The cover is especially awkward. The interview is decent – Natalie does tend to come across as somewhat smug and condescending in many interviews, but I enjoyed this piece – you can read it here. Some highlights:

Life in Paris: “It’s magical. But the cultures are different in ways you don’t even realize. And there’s stuff you don’t know you’ll miss until you’re away. Like indoor gyms where kids can just run and jump. They don’t have those there. [In Paris] if you’re running around on the playground chasing your kid and playing a game, people think you’re nuts.”

French people have better conversations: “This French friend of ours just told me that being in Los Angeles, he missed having serious conversations at dinner. In Paris, if you’re at dinner and there isn’t a debate, you leave and think, Well, that wasn’t a very good party. But no one ever does that here. And I thought, I like just having happy talk! My French is okay, but when my friends are talking about books and philosophy, that’s a level of conversation I’m just not ready for linguistically. And maybe intellectually.”

Making the clusterwhoops of ‘Jane Got a Gun’: “It’s a testament to how amazing it is in New Mexico that I still love it there, because that movie was really challenging. It’s a miracle it came out so well.”

A Tale of Love and Darkness: “The power of words is at the center of Judaism, and the creating of a people through storytelling. So I wanted to show the birth of this writer as he relates to his mother.”

Her Israeli roots: “It’s a very strange place to be from. When you say, ‘I’m for Israel,’ everyone wants to have a 10-hour political conversation. Everyone has a very strong, passionate opinion about it. But I’m grateful for it. I had so many friends who asked when we were younger, ‘Who am I? What’s my identity?’ I never questioned my identity.”

The red carpet questions: “I get asked so many questions about the Middle East, and I’m like ‘Can you please just ask me about my dress? Let’s just talk about the dress!’”

#AskHerMore: “I like to look at what people are wearing, but I do see the sexism in it. Yeah, you could reject it all, but I don’t know anyone who has done that and been able to maintain the level of work I’d like to maintain.”

Working with Cate Blanchett: “Cate Blanchett is an amazing person. Very early on, I asked her about being a parent. I said ‘How do you do it? You’re a mom. You’re the best at what you do.’ She said, ‘You just do. Stressing about it doesn’t help.’ Most men I know are dealing with the same issues. Maybe those questions need to be asked of men too. Maybe the men need better questions.”

[From Harper’s Bazaar]

I enjoy the fact that men are getting more questions about work-life balance, their appearance, their families and all of that. I’m not saying it’s even close to being equal, but that the men are really getting the same kinds of questions as women more often than not. As for the differences between American and Parisian life… I think she handled that stuff pretty well. Acknowledged there are differences, acknowledged that she misses some stuff about America, all of that.


Photos courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

69 Responses to “Natalie Portman misses some stuff about America, like kid-friendly gyms”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Div says:

    She seems to have mellowed out now that she’s in her 30s….I feel like she went through a overly serious James Franco artsy phrase when she was younger.

  2. Liz says:

    She looks a little like Penélope Cruz on the first cover. Nice cover and pics.

  3. Kitten says:

    She usually grates on me but this wasn’t too terrible.

    I love political debates, but I appreciate superficial topics as well because it can be nice to get a break from the heaviness. I try to have a balance of both in my life.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I am from a very political state because of where it falls in the whole Presidential cycle. We used to talk politics all the time…but I was usually the lonely democrat surrounded by conservatives!

      It can get uncomfortable, but then there are also perks. I got to shake Bernie Sanders hand during a parade when I went home over 4th of July. :)

    • sofia says:

      I liked that she acknowledge that maybe she wasn’t even intellectually ready to have some of the conversations her friends have about books. And that she recognized the importance of fashion to do the films she wants to do. Coming from her this I was quite a shock for me ^_^

  4. GreenieWeenie says:

    haha, I am an expat (from the US, altho that is not my native nationality) and at first, around 3-4 years abroad, I felt like, wow, I learned to appreciate so many things about the US now that I don’t have them.
    But now I’m like, omg, I realize how many things I dislike are unique to American culture and now I don’t have to deal with them (like Confederate flags, YAAAAA).
    you know, waxes and wanes, and all that.

  5. Alex says:

    This quote about conversations between French people kind of reaches a Goopy level of smugness and pretentiousness. Didn’t Goopy say something similar but about the British people?

    • Sixer says:

      And it’s a bit weird, too. My French and Italian isn’t too bad. I could have a relatively decent, serious conversation about politics, or a book, or a film or a social issue. But I couldn’t join in with rapid fire joking and slang-y, idiomatic light conversations. I wouldn’t do well on a board like this in French or Italian, for example, as many Europeans do here. I think it’s actually daily conversations with all the shorthands and the idioms and the subtle culture references that mark you out as an actually fluent speaker of another language.

    • GreenieWeenie says:

      sorry, I think she’s bang on. Just my opinion, but I did a BA in French Studies (including allllll the Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir). It really is just more common in French culture to yammer on about philosophy and if that isn’t your culture, I think it tends to be off-putting. I don’t mind it and I think it’s interesting, but my partner thinks all French people are pretentious.

      • JaneFR says:

        Reading the interview, at first I was all “we don’t do that. We’re not that pretentious!” But then I thought back to every dinner and even midday meal I had in the last months and then I was, “OMG, we do! How boring can we be ?.. well at least there’s food and wine”

    • Elisa the I. says:

      My ex-boyfriend is French and my French is OK, but GAWD, sometimes it’s bloody exhausting to have a serious conversation in a foreign language. So I can totally relate to her, expecially considering that French people (at least in my experience) love to argue for and against everything!

  6. TX says:

    Not crazy about th cover but I do love the picture of her on the swing

  7. JWQ says:

    So, every woman in Hollywood with a functioning brain complains about being asked only about the dresses she wears during the red carpets, this one is asked about politics and she wants to be asked about the dress, while still trying to sell the image of a smart, educated and intellectual person.

    Hmmm… ok…

    • GreenieWeenie says:

      I don’t think she needs to sell herself as smart or educated. She went to Harvard. Ergo est.

      • JWQ says:

        Having a degree doesn’ t automatically mean you’ re smart, especially if you are rich and can pay for it!

        Even assuming she got hers legitimately, most of the things she says during her interviews are ignorant, unarticulated, incoherent and detached from reality. Some examples include saying that the recession is exciting, that eating meat is like rape, that starring in a movie where underage children are sexualized is bad (and then making Léon and supporting Roman Polanski) and that she feels as discriminated as black actors.

        Sorry, but I don’ t think people who don’ t realize saying something like this in public is stupid are that smart! Plus, the fact that she drops the Harvard card every odd interview, and that she feels the need to tell everyone that she is much happier in Europe because people are smarter and only talk about important things and she feels better with them than with stupid Americans screams “I’ m smart, can’ t you see I am? Tell me I am!”.

      • GreenieWeenie says:

        No matter how easy you think it is to get into Harvard–it isn’t. You have to have empirically high test scores and you have to have the grades. She made The Professional when she was 12, I don’t know how you can hold someone personally responsible for how they were employed when they were a CHILD.

        I know she went to Harvard because I was also going to university at the same time. It wasn’t publicized a lot because she wasn’t working very much at all at the time. Then she made the Star Wars movies and that was really it. Until she did Closer, she was just a marginally successful child star.

        Everybody says stupid things from time to time because not everyone has thought everything through fully at all times, but like I said, you don’t graduate from Harvard without having some measure of intelligence and competence. I can’t stand James Franco and think the majority of what he does is handed to him, but I don’t think you can call him a moron with a straight face.

      • JWQ says:

        I don’ t think attending Harvard and getting a degree is easy for a regular person who actually works for that. However, I do think that if you belong to a wealthy and connected family, being admitted and getting your degree, not just in Harvard but in every private school of the planet, helps A LOT! And yes, I know that for a fact. I don’ t know your situation, but I am not implying that people in Harvard have it easy at all. Nor that everyone with money has an undeserved degree. I am saying that she had it easy, and she has an undeserved degree because everytime she speaks she sounds illitterate and ignorant, which are not two things I would associate with Harvard alumns.

        I don’ t know how child actors choose their roles, so I can agree that she wasn’ t responsible for “Lèon” because she was too young (even though at 12, unless she was physically forced by her parents, I’ d say you should already have some critical thinking for yourself): however, she was old enough when she supported Roman Polanski to be responsible for that! So a person who refuses to star in “Lolita” because there’ s no need to make movies about adult men lusting after underage girls, and then goes on signing a petition to release a child rapist is either a hypochrite, or too dumb to understand that the two things shouldn’ t come from the same person! Personally, I think it’ s both.

        Last, but not least, academical education is not the same as being smart. Leaving alone what I think about what she chose to study (which is psychology: people who work, seriously, in that field NEED to be smart, but getting a degree in psychology doesn’ t require you to be that much above average), even if she went studying something incredibly difficult that does require high intelligence, it doesn’ t mean that she is smart in the biggest sense of the term.
        Her ignorance doesn’ t come just from the fact that she doesn’ t educate herself about the things she talks about, it also comes from the fact that she is too dumb to realize that saying certain things in public is unacceptable, and that comes from being dumb AND detached from reality.
        If you don’ t understand that declaring that the recession is exciting is probably not the best thing to do in public, whether because you seriously believe that, or because you are so uninformed about life outside of your bubble and refuse to learn anything about it, then you are dumb, no matter how many degrees in medicine/engineering/maths/whatever you have.

      • perplexed says:

        People from wealthier backgrounds have access to special tutoring that can enable them to get higher test scores. There’s a certain degree of inequality in that. So I don’t think test scores are necessarily an accurate indicator of extremely high intelligence. I think it’s a little odd if people can’t see that a certain degree of privilege helps in getting access to things that might be closed off to someone from a less wealthy background. I don’t think a wealthy person is dumb just by automatically having money, but to assume that one gets by completely on their own ability and natural intelligence without having some doors opened for them seems kind of disingenuous.

        Harvard is also known for grade inflation . Why that is, I have no idea (is it because of the cost of the degree or the fear of ticking off wealthy parents?), but the grade inflation stuff is written about a lot in various places, including the Chronicle of Higher Education.

        I think Natalie is the type of person who probably tests well and also did well in subjects like math and science, since her dad is a doctor, so I don’t doubt she had high grades. But I think she comes from the kind of background where it would actually be kind of weird being a movie star, if she DIDN’T go to a place like Harvard (or any other prestigious university). I assume her peers also went to good schools; therefore, I think she comes from the kind of background that would facilitate someone wanting to go on to get her degree. Do I think she’s ever said anything useful that would indicate that I might be inclined to think she’s naturally extremely smart without the Harvard degree? That I’m not sure. Basically, I think she did what she had to do or what was expected of her (given that her dad is a prominent doctor and she lived in a wealthy, upper-class area), and is now in her own bubble like most movie stars.

    • Bridget says:

      “Yeah, you could reject it all, but I don’t know anyone who has done that and been able to maintain the level of work I’d like to maintain”

      That’s not at all saying “don’t ask me about politics”. It’s an acknowledgement that the red carpet is a BUSINESS, and her job is to represent herself, whatever project she’s representing, as well as the fashion house that she is paid to represent.

      • JWQ says:

        @Bridget & @ Josefa

        I was referring to this quote: I get asked so many questions about the Middle East, and I’m like ‘Can you please just ask me about my dress? Let’s just talk about the dress!’.

        I would never dream of saying that women are not allowed to talk about clothes, especially on a red carpet, and especially if they are representing a brand.
        I would never even dream of saying that a person shouldn’ t have the right to say “Don’ t ask me about politics!”, because you DO have the right to keep those things for yourself, whatever the reason.

        However, when you sell yourself as a smart, educated and politically and socially involved actress (who by the way has just directed a movie about Israel), proudly stating that you don’ t want to be asked about something regarding Israel because you would prefer talking about clothes is a little jarring.
        If you also add that pretty much everyone female in Hollywood (and really, everyone female period) is sick and tired that people give for granted that the only thing they might be interested in and eloquent in is how to wear stupid clothes, then you can probably see why a woman who gets asked other things and complains that she would prefer talking about clothes irritates me!

    • Josefa says:

      Middle Eastern politics are a VERY, VERY delicate issue. especially for someone with Israeli ascendants. It shouldn’t be hard to see why she wouldn’t be comfortable being asked those questions in public when the internet is ready to demolish her for whatever answer she gives.

      • perplexed says:

        Since she directed a movie about Israel, I think she’ll have to get comfortable with the idea of answering questions in the coming months. In any other context, I could understand the desire to avoid answering questions, but why direct a movie about Israel if you want to avoid the subject in interviews? That question is more or less rhetorical.

  8. Alessio says:

    Love that she admits she’d rather get asked about what dress she’s wearing! Go for it, Natalie, no shame in getting a free dress! Actresses *cough*reese*cough* take example!

  9. Julie says:

    sometimes i think Hollywood actresses marry foreign guys (english and french men mostly) as an accessoire.

  10. Kaye says:

    I almost didn’t recognize her at first, but I think it’s due more to the more feminine style of photography than to any photoshopping. Seems like she’s usually photographed straight on with a direct gaze.

    I think she looks very pretty.

    • lisa2 says:

      I like the cover too. I wish they had her move her hand down so you could see more of her face.. But I didn’t recognize her at first. The swing picture is pretty but cheesy.. I feel like they do this with people to generate some interest if they are not what you would call focus grabbing.. She just doesn’t come across as that interesting.

  11. Tiffany says:

    Maybe the time off is doing her well…or, someone is listening to their publicist.

    I know, I am a cynical bitch.

  12. Absolutely says:

    The saddest thing about this interview was that in France people would look at you like you were nuts if you actually ran around and played with your kid?
    Look, I’m all for deep conversations, I have a lot of French ancestry, and I’ve been to France and loved it, but don’t think I could live there full time.

    • JENNA says:

      It’s another culture. French kids are supposed to be well-behaved. If your kid runs around or throws tantrums in a public space, people will side-eye you. Adults don’t want to be bothered by someone else’s kids.

      • Absolutely says:

        I’m not deriding the culture, just saying it wouldn’t suit me, or I it. And there’s a vast difference between being generally well behaved and running and playing at a gym or playground. I just think the culture that side-eyes adults actually playing with their own children to not be one I could enjoy being in for long periods of time.

      • JaneFR says:

        No one here would mind you for playing and running with your kid at a playground.
        But yeah, bringing a kid to the gym and playing/running there is a serious no-no.
        In fact, my first thought was, “why in hell would one wanna do that? ” Then I read the comments and realised that it may be a way for mothers to go to the gym. But still, I find it weird. And inappropriate. And dangerous.

      • md1979 says:

        I don’t think Portman is referring to taking a child to a gym for adults. I think she is saying she misses the indoor gyms for kids – like Gymboree – which is basically an indoor playground / play area for kids with slides, climbing structures, foam block pits, trampolines, etc. where you can take them to run around if the weather isn’t suitable to be outside.

      • JaneFR says:

        Then we have theses too. They are (mostly) paying playgrounds. Playing and running with your kid is not strange nor really frown upon, even if most people take their kids there to play with other kids or by themselves.
        We tend to organize playdate there. And when we see someone running around like that, my friends and I are like “bless you. Just go and show off that you’re the better mother. We’re just gonna sit there and enjoyed a well deserve minute of calm. Super woman is taking a break”.

    • dr mantis toboggan says:

      When I was growing up, adults wouldn’t play with kids, kids would play with other kids or by themselves. Adults would converse with other adults. Obviously things have changed but I don’t think it’s nuts, just different.

  13. BooBooLaRue says:

    Golly I hope she never comes back to New Mexico.

  14. Kariochi says:

    Anyone else think she looks like Gina Davis?

  15. Elfie says:

    She looks beautiful in the photos. I enjoy her interviews, she’s intelligent and her comments are well thought out. She’s a refreshing alternative to the usual irritating, oblivious, vapid Hollywood airheads who deludedly think they know it all and have ‘wisdom’ to teach the masses. I can forgive her for not being the best actress because she’s interesting.

  16. iseepinkelefants says:

    there are actually a few indoor play places for kids. The problem, for Mrs. Portman, maybe, she’d have to take the RER out of the 75 to get to it. There are even indoor trampoline places for kids in the suburbs and a place to do gymnastics in Montmartre. They exist, you just have to leave the bougie 7th to get to them. Maybe she should stop hanging out with bobos, then she’d know thee things.

  17. Lilacflowers says:

    I love that pink dress in the last picture and the swing picture is cool.

    How did she get through Harvard without extensive exposure to dinner debates on philosophy? And yes, I’m cutting her some slack for being a science major although, in my experience, that hasn’t made much of a difference. Perhaps it is due to her comfort level with the language

    • perplexed says:

      She did stop at a B.A. though. I guess it’s possible that Harvard undergraduates are a different breed intellectually, if we forget about including people like the Winklevoss Twins, or they have an exposure outside the classroom that is different from that of other universities, but I don’t really think undergrads, even those of the Harvard kind, sit around discussing philosophy as extensively as tv would lead us to believe. Between 18-22, I think you’re sort of on autopilot to get your work done and get good grades.

  18. fee says:

    Please, she never had a problem with her identity unlike her friends? Who am I?
    Well, for one thing, you’re Neta-Lee Hershlag, not NAtalie Portman…so how proud are you when you change your name yet insist on being this proud ethnic person.
    Just like Kirk Douglas…real name Issur Danielovitch.

  19. SillySimone says:

    Honestly I have a celeb crush on her. She is perfect. She was a child star who went to an Ivy League school and got a degree. She has done amazing work (ex: Closer) and always handles herself well. I just adore her. And she is stunning !!!

  20. I Choose Me says:

    Pretty cover but she looks less like Natalie Portman and more a cross between Rose Byrne and Alyssa Milano.

  21. serena says:

    Well, I liked the photos and the interview. She’s usually really boring and uptight, also a little smug, but she came out well here. I enjoyed it.

  22. perplexed says:

    Although her husband performs a classical form of art, I’m having a hard time picturing him being all that intellectual.