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INT: Natalie Portman


Let there be no debate: Natalie Portman is a beautiful woman. This despite the fact that she and I now share the same haircut. But as she's sitting there talking politics, Menachem Begin, terrorism, etc., all I can think about is how beautiful she is. "NOD UNDERSTANDINGLY," I had to keep telling myself while she was talking. "TRY NOT TO LOOK LIKE YOU'RE STARING." All the credit in the world though to Ms. Portman who doesn't rest on her laurels as a young, rich, attractive, A-list actress like some of her colleagues. She's got a lot of intelligent ideas some down right interesting things to say. Exhibit A below:

Let's get the hair question out of the way first. Was it traumatic shaving your hair for the camera? I was so trying to focus, be in character, because we only had one shot to do it. I don't really have any personal memories of the experience, though. Are you starting to enjoy it now? I started letting it grow back, but it takes a really long time. Did having a shaved head afford you any anonymity? No, it actually made me more recognizable. With hair I can camouflage. But as a female with a shaved head, people tend to stare just naturally. The only place I'm recognized every day is Los Angeles. Otherwise it's like once a day. I feel pretty anonymous anyway.

Since your co-star is hidden behind a mask, do you find any additional pressure having to carry this film by yourself? I don't think of it as a solo thing at all. It has a graphic novel that has an amazing following. "V" is obviously the center, so that's the star and title character, who's played by an incredible actor in Hugo Weaving. James [McTeague] and the Wachowskis have an incredible following from THE MATRIX. I definitely don't feel like I'm carrying this alone. I'm part of an amazing team. I wanted to make this movie for the material, to be a part of this big entertainment movie. It actually has some ideas. I was thrilled by that prospect. What about Evey excited you about playing her? It's complicated, because you can easily make a big Hollywood action movie with a hero that the audience falls in love with. This movie has a hero who is often bad and does things that you don't like. The character goes on a journey that could have been a simple thing for her. The process by which she changes is so complicated. There's this level of her finding her faith, maybe she's being manipulated. There are levels of complications. Just because people are oppressed doesn't mean they're justified in they're means. It leaves it open to discussion, I think. Were you apprehensive about starring in a film that takes so openly about terrorism? Being from Israel was a reason I wanted to do this because terrorism and violence are such a daily part of my conversations since I was little. It's not a new thing. It's been part of my thought process for a long time. One of the books I read to help me for this role was Menachem Began's book about his experience in a Siberian prison. And then eventually he came to lead a cell against the British occupation of Palestine. He was called a terrorist by many people. It's not a particularly anti-Israel thing. Israelis have been called terrorists too. It's important for us to question when, if ever, violence is justified. What are our thresholds for how a situation gets before we say enough and revolt? One of the great things about this movie is that it leaves it open for discussion. It doesn't make clear good or bad statements. It respects the audience enough to take away their own opinion.

How did you feel during film when the London Underground bombings too place? Any act of violence, anywhere, with human casualties is horrifying. These daily occurrences that we now see on television. I'm optimistic enough to hope this isn't the future, but obviously there are many elements in the film that resonate with historical and current events. Do you think this film is anti-Bush at all or is it not that specific? It happens in an imaginary future, so it allows for many layers of interpretation. There are certainly people who will take it that way. There are people I know who have seen it and take it as an anti-fascism movie. That's one of the beautiful things about it. One of my favorite scenes in the film is Gordon's television show. It shows how incredible that simple for simplification and propagandizing that goes on with extremists, leaders or terrorist freedom fighters, is. Going from STAR WARS to GARDEN STATE to VENDETTA, you certainly have a variety of different roles in your past. How do you choose your films? I'm just trying to do different things. If I can keep myself interested, then hopefully the audience will be interested too.

What can we look forward to after VENDETTA? I'm taking a break. I finished GOYA'S GHOSTS, the Milos Forman movie that's coming out in the fall of this year. I'm about to start a kid's film called MR. MAGORIUM'S WONDER EMPORIUM with Dustin Hoffman. Do you see any comparisons between STAR WARS and V FOR VENDETTA with their "evil empire" themes? (Laughs) I'll leave it open to the people who write essays about this stuff and will make THE MATRIX, V FOR VENDETTA, STAR WARS connections. What's it feel like to be done with STAR WARS? I mainly did STAR WARS while I was in school. I was in school during the year, and over summer break I'd do STAR WARS. Now I'm done with school, done with STAR WARS, I'm graduated!



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