Actress Natalie Portman Warns Children Not to Work in Hollywood After Admitting She Felt ‘Sexualized’ as a Child

Actress Natalie Portman Warns Children Not to Work in Hollywood After Admitting She Felt ‘Sexualized’ as a Child

Natalie Portman attends Netflix's "May December" Los Angeles Photo Call at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, California, on Nov. 17, 2023. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Katabella Roberts

Katabella Roberts


Updated: 12/21/2023

Actress Natalie Portman has said she believes children should not work in Hollywood owing to the potential risks, after admitting she felt “sexualized” as a child movie star.
“I would not encourage young people to go into this. I don’t mean ever; I mean as children,” Ms. Portman told Variety in an interview published on Nov. 23.
The actress, who starred in her first movie at the age of 12, said she believes it was an “accident of luck” combined with “very overprotective, wonderful parents” that she was not harmed while working in the film industry at such a young age.
“You don’t like it when you’re a kid, and you’re grateful for it when you’re an adult,” the 42-year-old Oscar winner continued. “I’ve heard too many bad stories to think that any children should be part of it. Having said that, I know all the conversations that we’ve been having these past few years. It’s made people more aware and careful.”
Ultimately, the actress, who is mom to two children—son Aleph, 12, and daughter Amalia, six—said she believes children should not get into show business during their younger years and instead enjoy a normal childhood.
“I don’t believe that kids should work. I think kids should play and go to school,” the actress said.
Ms. Portman starred in the 1994 film “Léon: The Professional,” directed by French filmmaker Luc Besson, when she was just 12 years old.

‘Leon’ Was a ‘Complicated’ Movie

The movie saw Ms. Portman play the role of Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl who is reluctantly taken in by Leon—a professional assassin much older than her—after her family is murdered.
She later becomes Léon’s mentee and develops a crush on him, although her feelings are not reciprocated.
Mr. Besson has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. He has denied the allegations.
Speaking of the movie in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year, Ms. Portman said she now finds some aspects of it cringe-worthy and acknowledged that the role was “complicated” for her as a young woman.
“It’s a movie that’s still beloved, and people come up to me about it more than almost anything I’ve ever made, and it gave me my career, but it is definitely when you watch it now, it definitely has some cringey, to say the least, aspects to it. So, yes, it’s complicated for me,” she told the publication.
Ms. Portman went on to appear in a string of hit films following “Leon” including 1999’s “Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace” when she was just 16 years old and still in high school, “V for Vendetta,” “Closer,” and “Black Swan.”
She won multiple awards for her roles in those movies and has also co-founded the MountainA production company.
"Lord of the Rings" actor Elijah Wood and Liv Tyler pose for photographers during a press conference in Tokyo, on Feb. 20, 2002. (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)

"Lord of the Rings" actor Elijah Wood and Liv Tyler pose for photographers during a press conference in Tokyo, on Feb. 20, 2002. (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)

‘Sexualized as a Child’

This is not the first time Ms. Portman has spoken out about her experience as a child star.
In 2020, the actress appeared on fellow actor Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast where she revealed she felt sexualized as a youngster.
“Being sexualized as a child, I think it took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid and it made me feel like the way that I could be safe was to be like, I’m conservative and I’m serious and you should respect me and I’m smart and like, don’t look at me that way, whereas at that age, you do have your own sexuality and you do have your own desire and you do want to explore things and you do want to be open, but you don’t feel safe necessarily when there’s like older men that are interested,” she said at the time.
Ms. Portman is not the only Hollywood star to speak out against children working in the movie industry.
In 2016, “Lord of the Rings” star Elijah Wood told The Sunday Times that Hollywood was battling a child abuse epidemic and that some child actors were regularly “preyed upon” by “vipers” in the industry.
“Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood. It was all organized. There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind,” Mr. Wood said at the time.
“There is darkness in the underbelly. What bums me about these situations is that the victims can’t speak as loudly as the people in power. That’s the tragedy of attempting to reveal what is happening to innocent people: they can be squashed, but their lives have been irreparably damaged,” the actor concluded.
Katabella Roberts

Katabella Roberts


Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.

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