Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Natalie and Her Life as a Nude Pink Pole Dancer; the Bambi-Eyed Starlet Grows Up with a Golden Globe-Winning Performance

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Natalie and Her Life as a Nude Pink Pole Dancer; the Bambi-Eyed Starlet Grows Up with a Golden Globe-Winning Performance

Article excerpt

Byline: SIMON CORVIN

SHE complained that her first onscreen kiss, at 18, made her feel like a whore, so it comes as a bit of a surprise to find Natalie Portman gyrating on the big screen in bejewelled underwear, and scooping prizes for her efforts.

Somehow, the precocious child star has suddenly made the leap to mature actress.

Natalie seems to be everywhere at the moment. She is starring in the low-budget Garden State, an exploration of America's suburbia that has been hailed as "the new Graduate".

She has just won a Golden Globe as best supporting actress for her role in Mike Nichols' adaptation of Patrick Marber's successful play.

And later this year, she appears in the final Star Wars prequel as Senator Padme Amidala, a role she has had for nearly 10 years.

At 23, she is a film veteran. But since she graduated with a degree in psychology from Harvard two years ago, she has chosen roles that take her far from the Bambieyed innocents that had become her stock-in-trade.

Most significant is her decision to take the part of the complicated and deceiving pole-dancer Alice in Closer - the British film that this week scooped two Golden Globe awards, including one for her as best supporting actress.

In one scene, clad in a candyflosspink wig, she gyrates for a drunk, unshaven Clive Owen, her bejewelled underwear sliding to the floor on command.

It's a far cry from her first onscreen kiss in Where The Heart Is.

On the first day of filming for Closer, Natalie reportedly showed up with a necklace for her co-star Julia Roberts bearing a four-letter word (which features a good deal in the film) picked out in diamonds.

"The role as a whole was scary and challenging," she confesses.

The film is a claustrophobic study of infidelity in which, to put it very simply, two couples swap partners, then swap back again, tearing each other apart as they do so.

"I always try to separate my character and my personal life, but this was very hard to leave behind. …

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