Natalie Portman says children should not be working in Hollywood — after she was ‘sexualized’ in first movie at age 12

Natalie Portman says children should not be working in Hollywood — after she was ‘sexualized’ in first movie at age 12

Natalie Portman began her long and illustrious film career when she was just 12-years-old — starring in Luc Besson’s “Léon: The Professional.”

However, the Oscar-winner, now 42, doesn’t believe that children should be working in Hollywood.

“I would not encourage young people to go into this. I don’t mean ever; I mean as children,” Portman told Variety recently.

Portman doesn’t regret starting her own acting career in her pre-teen years because her parents were able to watch over her while she was on set.

“I feel it was almost an accident of luck that I was not harmed, also combined with very overprotective, wonderful parents,” the “Thor” actress explained.

“You don’t like it when you’re a kid, and you’re grateful for it when you’re an adult,” she added.” I’ve heard too many bad stories to think that any children should be part of it.”

“Ultimately, I don’t believe that kids should work,” Portman proclaimed. “I think kids should play and go to school.”

Portman is now mom to two children, Aleph, 12, and Amalia, 6, but her comments indicate her offspring will not be following in her child star footsteps.


Natalie Portman
The Oscar winner was just 12 when she starred in the 1994 film “Léon: The Professional.”
Sygma via Getty Images

Aside from starring in the 1994 action thriller, she also appeared as Padmé Amidala in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” when she was still in high school.

Her other early roles include the 1996 drama “Beautiful Girls” and 2000’s “Where the Heart Is.”

The Marvel actress has previously spoken up about her teenage life in the spotlight.

Portman appeared on Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast back in 2020 and noted that being 12 on the set of “Leon” “didn’t allow the full expression of who I was at that time.” 

“Being sexualized as a child took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid,” she went on.

Portman then recalled that many people “had this impression of me that I was super-serious and prude and conservative as I got older.”


Natalie Portman, Liam Neeson, Jake Lloyd, Ewan McGregor
Natalie Portman, Liam Neeson, Jake Lloyd and Ewan McGregor in “Star Wars: Episode I,” 1999.
Lucasfilm Ltd.

“I consciously cultivated that because it was a way to make me feel safe. If someone respects you, they’re not going to objectify you.”

She sighed: “At that age you do have your own sexuality, and you do have your own desire and you do want to explore things … but you don’t feel safe necessarily. You build these fortresses.” 

In 2018, Portman recalled how males over-sexualized her when she was a teenager. She recounted at the Women’s March how when she opened her fan mail, there would be rape fantasies that men had written about her.

 “A countdown was started on my local radio show to my 18th birthday, euphemistically the date that I would be legal to sleep with. Movie reviewers talked about my budding breasts in reviews,” Portman revealed.

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