Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman shared some strong opinions about newly re-elected Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as her thoughts on anti-Semitism and racism.
During a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the 33-year-old Oscar winner first sounded off on Israeli politics.
“I’m very much against Netanyahu. Against. I am very, very upset and disappointed that he was re-elected. I find his racist comments horrific,” she explained. “However, I don’t — what I want to make sure is, I don’t want to use my platform [the wrong way]. I feel like there’s some people who become prominent, and then it’s out in the foreign press. You know, shit on Israel. I do not. I don’t want to do that.”
Portman, who was born in Israel, was then asked to weigh in on Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, who included her name and email address in a chain of hacked emails regarding the Gaza conflict about “Jews being slaughtered for their beliefs”.
“I was very unhappy to be included in those emails, and I told [Kavanaugh] so. I wrote to him that I didn’t want to be part of that group. I didn’t want to be receiving those emails at all. I find them very disturbing,” she said.
As far as Dior fashion designer John Galliano, who lost his position with the company after an anti-Semitic rant at a Parisian cafe in 2011, the actress believes everyone deserves a second chance.
“I don’t see why not to be forgiving to someone who is, I mean, someone who’s trying to change,” said Portman. “However, I don’t think those comments are ever OK. I don’t forgive the comments, but … we’ve all done things that we regret.”
The actress-turned writer-producer will make her directorial debut this month at Cannes Film Festival. She previously bought the rights to Amos Oz’s memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness, about growing up and becoming a writer in the early years of Israel, which she was adamant about shooting in Hebrew.
The film was shot in Jerusalem in February 2014.
Stephen Galloway of The Hollywood Reporter pointed out that Portman has embraced her “Jewishness” and asked her if she feels nervous about living in Paris, a country in which anti-Semitism is on the rise.
“Yes, she said. “But I’d feel nervous about being a black man in this country. I’d feel nervous about being a Muslim in many places.”
It was unclear whether Portman meant she feared to be a “black man” in her home country of France or in the United States. The interview took place in Los Angeles.
Portman described herself as “quite leftist” in relation to Israeli society, but said she feels like a capitalist in Paris as there is a “socialist difference in a major way. Like, the strike thing is a real phenomenon. You think it’s just a stereotype, but it’s totally the case there. It’s really about like ‘giving it to the man.’ ”
When it comes to the Oscar she received in 2011 for her starring role in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, Portman says she doesn’t know where she keeps it and admits she doesn’t believe in worshipping false idols.
“I was reading the story of Abraham to my child and talking about, like, not worshipping false idols. And this is literally like gold men. This is literally worshipping gold idols — if you worship it. That’s why it’s not displayed on the wall. It’s a false idol.”
This piece has been corrected