Natalie Portman, byname of Natalie Hershlag, (born June 9, 1981, Jerusalem), Israeli American actress known for the aristocratic poise and nuance with which she evinced the struggles of complex precocious young women.
Natalie Hershlag was born in Jerusalem; her mother was American and her father, who later became a fertility doctor, was Israeli. In 1984 the family moved to the United States, eventually settling in Syosset, Long Island, New York. After a brief stint in modeling, Hershlag turned to acting, securing her first film role in Léon (1994; The Professional).
She starred opposite French actor Jean Reno as an adolescent girl training to be an assassin after her parents have been murdered. Hershlag assumed her maternal grandmother’s last name at this time in order to protect herself from unwanted attention as a result of the role, which had sexual overtones. She then appeared in Michael Mann’s crime thriller Heat (1995) as a troubled teenager.