Natalie Portman was born in Israel and learned Hebrew at an early age, but didn’t have the linguistic skills to write her new film, “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” in her forefathers’ tongue.
“My Hebrew was pretty good before I started [writing the screenplay], but I definitely had…limited vocabulary and poor grammar,” she admitted at a private screening for the film in Soho. Portman wrote, stars in and makes her directorial debut with the movie, which has English subtitles, and is based on Amos Oz’ 2002 novel of the same name.
“Luckily, I wrote the script in English and had a great writer translate it into Hebrew, so my lines were written for me, and then I just had to learn them,” she said. “And then I worked on my accent for a few months with a coach to improve my Hebrew.”
Portman, born Neta-Lee Hershlag, was born in Jerusalem to an Israeli dad and an American mom — who’s now her manager. She was taught Hebrew while attending grade school on Long Island and, after graduating from Harvard, returned to Israel to take graduate classes at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. According to Portman, her life somewhat mirrors the tale of her film’s main character — a boy from Jerusalem growing up during the establishment of the State of Israel.
“My parents are both immigrants. My grandparents are immigrants,” she said. “I guess it is a part of our family legacy that every generation has this being torn between two places and the hopes and dreams for the new place that don’t always match up to the reality.”
Portman recently awoke geeks to the harsh reality that she has no plans to return to the Marvel Universe, in which she starred in two “Thor” films, but will not be in the third installment of the comic book series, “Thor: Ragnarok.” That film is slated to hit theaters in November, 2017.
Portman first became the leading lady in fanboys’ dreams in 1999, when at the age of 18, she starred as Queen Amidala in “Star Wars 1 — the Phantom Menace.”
With Jeffrey Slonim