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Natalie Portman: 'Lena Dunham inspires me'

Published 20/08/2016

Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman

Actress-turned-director Natalie Portman was worried her directorial debut would be seen as a vanity project.

Natalie Portman credits Lena Dunham with helping her to overcome her fear of being criticised as a director in Hollywood.

The 35-year-old Oscar-winner has made her directorial debut with Hebrew-language film A Tale of Love and Darkness, which takes place during the conflict-ridden early days of the State of Israel.

Mother-of-one Natalie struggled to be taken seriously as a director in Hollywood, but credits Girls director, writer and star Lena for giving her the inspiration to ignore critics.

When asked if actresses who direct films are treated with more scepticism, Natalie blamed the industry for making it difficult for women to make their own films without being called vain.

"I do think the 'vanity project' concept is definitely used more against women. I found myself very affected by seeing reviews like that as a kid, growing up, when Barbra Streisand directed The Mirror Has Two Faces (in 1996)," she told Entertainment Weekly.

"I remember, as a 12-year-old, reading reviews saying it was a 'vanity project' and talking about how she lights herself and stuff, and it made me reluctant to try taking on multiple roles on this film. To be a writer, director, and actress, I was like, 'Oh my God, they’re going to kill me for this!'"

But after seeing work by 30-year-old Lena, Natalie's point of view shifted. "I remember seeing Tiny Furniture, Lena Dunham’s film, and when the credits rolled I started crying because it was written by Lena Dunham, starring Lena Dunham, produced by Lena Dunham, and directed by Lena Dunham," she recalled.

"This young woman has no fear of (saying) 'I did it, I did all of this.' And it was so good. It inspired me to not be afraid of that (criticism)."

The actress, who won an Oscar and Golden Globe in 2011 for her role in Black Swan, hopes female directors will become a regular occurrence, and not just a novelty.

"I think once it just becomes commonplace, people will just say (it’s) a good or bad film, they’re not saying 'female' or 'male', and it just becomes life," she added.

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