Friday 20 April 2018

Natalie Portman: I have '100 stories' of abuse in Hollywood

Natalie Portman (Ian West/PA)
Natalie Portman (Ian West/PA)

Olivia Rudgard

Natalie Portman has "100 stories" of sexual harassment in Hollywood, she has said.

The 36-year-old Oscar winner told PORTeR magazine that she had experienced manipulative studio executives intimidating and harassing her during her career.

In one case, she said, a producer invited her onto his private plane.

She said: “It was just the two of us, and only one bed was made up. Nothing happened, I was not assaulted.

Actors Eva Longoria, Constance Wu and Natalie Portman speak during the Women's March Los Angeles 2018. Photo: Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images
Actors Eva Longoria, Constance Wu and Natalie Portman speak during the Women's March Los Angeles 2018. Photo: Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images

"I did make a point of saying, ‘This does not make me feel comfortable,’ and that was respected.

"But that was super not OK, you know? That was really unacceptable and manipulative. I was scared."

Ms Portman played her part in the growing outrage over sexism in Hollywood when she took to the stage in January for the Golden Globes. Announcing the category for Best Director, she said: “And here are the all-male nominees".

She said she had come to realise that experiences she "took for granted as like, this is part of the process", were actually instances of harassment and sexism.

"I went from thinking, ‘I don’t have a story’ to ‘Oh, wait, I have 100 stories.’ And I think a lot of people are having these reckonings with themselves," she said.

Ms Portman, an experienced actress whose first film role was as at the age of 12 in Luc Bresson's thriller Léon: The Professional, also paid tribute to those who had come forward to disclose their experiences of sexual abuse.

Natalie Portman attends the women's march Los Angeles on January 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
Natalie Portman attends the women's march Los Angeles on January 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

"First of all, I think it’s really important to recognize all the people who have come forward,” she said. "They have created this cultural shift. A lot of people have been speaking out for a long time and not been heard, particularly women of color, so it’s very important the industry listens."

She has previously spoken about her experiences of "sexual terrorism" following her debut role, revealing at the Women's March in Los Angeles last month that her first fan mail, received when she was 13, had been a rape fantasy written by a man.

The Black Swan Oscar winner, who is married to French dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, and has a son and a daughter, also challenged the perception that women's careers were damaged because they chose to have children.

“But what’s interesting about this harassment conversation is, maybe it has nothing to do with being a mother," she said.

Natalie Portman and Ron Howard (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)
Natalie Portman and Ron Howard (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

"Maybe women are dropping out of the workplace because it’s a hostile environment for them and they are choosing not to be a part of that. It’s been proven that once you change the power differential and reach a 50/50 ratio of men and women, you see fewer issues."

Her commitment to the sexual harassment campaign also compelled her to join Instagram, persuaded by the Hollywood-driven Time’s Up campaign, launched earlier this year in response to allegations of sexual harassment against Miramax founder Harvey Weinstein.

Her comments came as fellow Hollywood star Jessica Chastain made her own comments about sexual harassment.

The actress, who co-starred with Portman in upcoming film The Death and Life Of John F. Donovan, commented on Uma Thurman's allegation that she had been sexually assaulted by Weinstein.

"I keep imagining Tarantino spitting in Uma's face and strangling her with a chain for Kill Bill. How many images of women in media do we celebrate that showcase abuse? When did this become normalized 'entertainment'?" she said, adding "When violence against women is used as a plot device to make the characters stronger then we have a problem. It is not empowering to be beaten and raped, yet so many films make it their 'phoenix' moment for women."

Meryl Streep, from left, Ai-jen Poo, Natalie Portman, Tarana Burke, Michelle Williams, America Ferrera, Jessica Chastain, Amy Poehler, and Saru Jayaraman arrive at the InStyle and Warner Bros. Golden Globes afterparty at the Beverly Hilton Hotel (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Meryl Streep, from left, Ai-jen Poo, Natalie Portman, Tarana Burke, Michelle Williams, America Ferrera, Jessica Chastain, Amy Poehler, and Saru Jayaraman arrive at the InStyle and Warner Bros. Golden Globes afterparty at the Beverly Hilton Hotel (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

In an interview with the New York Times last week Ms Thurman claimed Weinstein had attacked her in a hotel room at the Savoy in London.

In a statement given to the newspaper Weinstein's spokesman said he admitted "making an awkward pass 25 years ago at Ms Thurman in England after misreading her signals" and added "her claims about being physically assaulted are untrue".

To see the full interview, buy the latest issue of PORTeR, on sale globally on Friday 9 February, 2018. Also available as a digital edition.

Telegraph.co.uk

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