Natalie Portman finally "reconciled" with career

Mon Feb 7, 2011 1:10am EST
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By Jenelle Riley

LOS ANGELES (Back Stage) - Though she has been an actor for much of her 29 years, Natalie Portman admits there was a time when she wondered about other career choices.

"There were moments when I questioned it, when I was thinking, 'What is the purpose of this in our world? Is it as meaningful as being a doctor, being a teacher, or things that I think of as such noble professions?,'" said the daughter of a doctor and a teacher.

"But I think I've really reconciled myself with that, and I think art is not only important but critical to the soul of a human and the soul of a community. Not to be self-important about what I do, but I've found a lot of meaning in it."

There's plenty meaningful about Portman's performance in "Black Swan," for which she has earned her second Oscar nomination and some of the best reviews of her career. Portman plays a sheltered ballerina named Nina who finds her fragile mental state crumbling when she lands the dual roles of the innocent White Swan and the sensual Black Swan in her company's production of "Swan Lake."

Pushed by a demanding director (Vincent Cassel), a devious rival (Mila Kunis), and an overbearing mother (Barbara Hershey), Nina descends into paranoia and madness, vividly brought to life by Portman's performance and director Darren Aronofsky's stylized storytelling.

Though she may go through hell on screen, in real life things have never looked better for Portman. She recently announced her engagement to Benjamin Millepied, who appears as her dance partner in "Black Swan," and they're expecting their first child.

The drama "The Other Woman," which she produced and which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival two years ago, just opening in limited release. And after the intensity of "Black Swan," she lightened up with two comedies: the recent chart-topper "No Strings Attached," which she also produced, and the upcoming "Your Highness" opposite James Franco and Danny McBride.

Later this year she will be seen in Kenneth Branagh's screen adaptation of the comic book "Thor." These films have been a chance for Portman to show her range in a wide assortment of projects -- a variety she says she has always intended to maintain.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Natalie Portman poses at the premiere of "No Strings Attached" at the Regency Village theatre in Los Angeles January 11, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>