Actress Natalie Portman feels “nervous” as a Jew living in Paris and says that Benjamin Netanyahu is guilty of “horrific” racism, a new interview with the Israeli-born star reveals.
She answered in the affirmative when asked whether living in a city where “antisemitism is frighteningly on the rise” made her feel nervous about being Jewish – but was quick to add that she would feel nervous as a black or Muslim resident of France.
The Oscar winner also said that raising a family in Paris with her French husband, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, had made her feel “deeply culturally different”.
Despite only having been in Paris for two months at the time of the terrorist attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January, the actress simply responded “listen, I’m from Israel” when asked if she had been left shaken by what happened.
33-year-old Ms Portman spoke to The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the release of her feature-length directorial debut – an adaptation of Israeli author’s Amos Oz’s memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness – and revealed that she was “very much against” recently re-elected Prime Minister Bibi.
The Black Swan star and self-described “leftist” said: “I’m very much against Netanyahu. Against. I am very, very upset and disappointed that he was re-elected. I find his racist comments horrific”.
However, Ms Portman, who left Israel for America at 3 years old, said she was uninterested in using her high profile to paint Israel in a negative light, and said: “I don’t want to use my platform [the wrong way]. I feel like there’s some people who become prominent, and then it’s out in the foreign press. You know, shit on Israel. I do not. I don’t want to do that.”
The mother-of-one also spoke of the challenges of adapting Amos Oz for screen – the film, shot in Jerusalem last year, will be a “love letter in Hebrew” – despite warnings that shooting entirely in the language would make production and commercial appeal more difficult.
Describing Hebrew as having an “incredible poetry and magic”, she said that Jews are “a people built of words, people built of books, and it’s quite beautiful to see that.
“It’s obviously almost impossible to translate, but there’s just incredible beauty to that.”
A Tale of Love and Darkness, written and directed by Portman, is set to premiere at this year’s Cannes Festival.