How Natalie avoided Tinseltown drama to become a poster girl for the new generation

As we have seen this week, growing up in the glare of the Hollywood lights can be a tricky business.

Not for Natalie Portman.

While many peers struggle with the pitfalls of wealth and fame at a young age, the brunette has managed to body swerve brushes with the law and the paparazzi, emerging as one of the most poised actresses of her generation.

Now 29, she's the kind of girl of whom her co-star in 1999's Anywhere But Here, Susan Sarandon said it was like "working with an equal".

Opening the Venice Film Festival with her pyshcological thriller Black Swan this week, Natalie – who first caught the public imagination as a tough little orphan in Leon: The Professional – was a luminous presence in a revealing scarlet creation


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She plays a dancer trying to retain her sanity  in the cutthroat world of ballet and the slashed-to-the-thigh Rodarte design was perfect for showcasing the honed figure required for the movie.

"Six months ahead of the film, I went into sort of hyper-training, where five hours a day I was doing both ballet and cross-training, with swimming," she explained.



She may well have learnt her discipline and self-possession from her parents, an Israeli paediatrician and his wife, who made sure one of them travelled with her at all times and once scrutinised all her scripts to make sure they were appropriate for her age.

In interviews, Natalie - who says she never really had a tipple until she was studying for a degree at university - often mentions their influence as one of the reasons she was never tempted to go off the rails.

Seeing their daughter on the red carpet, promoting a film that critics are saying puts her in with a chance of an Oscar, there can be no limits to their pride.


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