Natalie Portman Talks Mentorship and Memes at the Cannes Film Festival
Work can be stressful for everyone—even Natalie Portman.
Never mind that the actress and producer is a certified badass who has fought sexism and space invaders, earned a STEM degree from Harvard, and—perhaps toughest of all—danced for hours in pointe shoes while wearing some very bold eyeliner.
All that said, she’s still just a girl…standing in front of a wall of shouting paparazzi at the Cannes Film Festival…posing in a Dior Couture dress and a strand of Chopard diamonds and sapphires that are, as the kids say, doing the absolute most.
“It can be very anxiety-provoking,” says Portman of her considerable red carpet duties, which include the premiere of her new film May December and the Trophée Chopard ceremony, where she’ll serve as the famous award’s Godmother. “It really has to do with centering yourself and breathing through it because it is [stressful]. You have to kind of remember who you are and where you are, and try and, you know, appreciate the moment.”
The good news: it’s quite a moment. May December is in competition for the prestigious Cannes Palme D’Or; Portman is also serving as somewhat of a guiding light for the jeweler’s annual Cannes ceremony, which honors two emerging actors—this year, it’s Naomi Ackie and Daryl McCormack; past winners include Anya Taylor-Joy and Joe Alwyn. “I know how important it was in my career…to have the ability to reach out when I had an important question about something that was difficult, that not many people can necessarily relate to,” she says, “So hopefully, with Daryl and Naomi, I can be part of a community for them.”
Portman welcomed the Cannes newbies to the fold alongside Chopard’s co-president and artistic director Caroline Scheufele, who cordially invited her, and the actress did so wearing an archival Dior couture dress from the 2017 collection, specifically, along with a Chopard diamond and sapphire collar necklace, matching cocktail ring, and diamond stud earrings. (In other words, a look.) “It’s really wonderful to get to celebrate things that exist and not having to constantly make new things,” Portman says of her epic runway re-wear. “So it was great to get to wear something that that was from a previous collection and celebrate that idea of sustainability.”
As the Trophée Chopard godmother, Portman will also be celebrating the idea of setting an example for the next generation of Hollywood starlets—something she’s done as both a vegan activist, a political campaigner, and a passionate champion of women’s rights in the entertainment industry and beyond. But when I ask the Israeli-born Gemini (“Curious. Communicative. Impulsive.”) about the importance of female mentorship, she’s quick to point out that everyone can hold the door open for the next generation.
“I’ve had incredible mentorship from both men and women,” she notes, citing the late director and producer Mike Nichols as an instrumental sounding board. “And it’s been super helpful in my career to have people who I could both go to for advice, but also who would, unsolicited, come and tell me, ‘You know, this is not being your best self,’ or, ‘This is something you could do better.’ It was really helpful to have that guidance and that support. Now, no one is really looking at me like I need to be mentored!” she laughs. “But even still, at this point, I can reach out to those people when I do feel like I need those moments of guidance. I think that goes on for the rest of your life.”
I tell Portman that one of my early mentors told me to buy all my beauty products at French pharmacies, and ask what’s on her shopping list when she loads up abroad. “Oh, French pharmacies are amazing,” she agrees. “I like to get the Embryolisse moisturizers—the body moisturizer smells amazing—and I love the Bioderma micellar water and a thermal water spray.” Portman also gives the pro tip to visit a French supermarket when traveling abroad, but even though “Monoprix is amazing,” she prefers “those organic grocery stores—I couldn’t tell you the name, but they have this really wonderful, actually delicious plant-based Camembert.”
So Portman’s likely going incognito at a Bio Supermarché in Paris IRL…but she’s not peeping anyone’s Anakin and Padma memes online. When I ask if she has a favorite, Portman seems genuinely confused. “I have no idea what that is—I haven’t seen that stuff,” she says, rather convincingly. “It sounds funny, though!”
Editor at Large, ELLE.com
“Her beauty and her brain go not together.” —William Shakespeare
Check out our Latest News and Follow us at Facebook