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Natalie Portman says being painted as a ‘Lolita figure’ by the media aged 12 ‘took away from my own sexuality’

Actor said she constructed an image of herself as ‘super serious’ and a ‘prude’ for protection

Isobel Lewis
Tuesday 08 December 2020 10:37 GMT
Natalie Portman shades the All Male directors category GoldenGlobes

Natalie Portman has described how she built “fortresses” to protect herself after being sexualised by the media as a teenager.

The actor began her film career in the mid-1990s, where she earned a name for herself playing the “dark, kind of sexy, young girl role” in films such as 1994’s Léon: The Professional and 1996’s Beautiful Girls.

Appearing on the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard podcast, Portman admitted that playing these roles led her to be painted in the media as a “Lolita figure”.

“Being sexualised as a child, I think, took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid,” she said. “It made me feel like the way I can be safe is to be like, ‘I’m conservative, and I’m serious, and you should respect me, and I’m smart and don’t look at me that way.’”

The actor, 39, continued: “Whereas [at] that age you do have your own sexuality, and you do have your own desire, and you do want to explore things, and you do want to be open, but you don’t feel safe, necessarily, when there’s, like, older men that are interested and you’re like, ‘No, no no no no no.’”

Describing how she built “fortresses” to protect herself, the actor said that she also projected an image of being a “prude”.

“I realise I consciously cultivated that because it was a way to make me feel safe,” she said. “‘Oh, if someone respects you they’re not going to objectify you.’”

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