Natalie Portman says being in the critically derided Star Wars films nearly ruined her career.
The 33-year-old actress gained critical acclaim for her film debut as a child star in Luc Besson’s Leon, but then went on to play Padme Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, which she told the New Yorker magazine ruined her reputation as an actress.
She credits director Mike Nichols, who died last month, with saving her career by casting her in his 2001 stage production of Chekhov’s The Seagull.
Natalie said: “Star Wars had come out around the time of Seagull, and everyone thought I was a horrible actress. I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me.
“Mike wrote a letter to Anthony Minghella and said, ‘Put her in Cold Mountain, I vouch for her.’ And then Anthony passed me on to Tom Tykwer, who passed me on to the Wachowskis.
“I worked with Milos Forman a few years later. He said, ‘Mike saved me. He wrote a letter so that I could get asylum in the US.’ He did that for 50 people, and it doesn’t make any one of us feel less special.”
Natalie has gone on to have a highly-successful career, winning the best actress Oscar for Black Swan in 2011.