It’s not that Natalie Portman didn’t have plenty on her plate. She just didn’t have any use for the public eye while she was feasting on the good life.
The Oscar winner returned to promotional circulation this summer on behalf of her feature directorial debut, the Hebrew-language A Tale of Love and Darkness, and with two more new movies screening on the festival circuit, she is once again a fixture on red-carpet watch lists after what feels like a good long while.
And…surprise! She happens to be pregnant with her and Benjamin Millepied‘s second child together as well.
So, while Portman was working all the while before reemerging into the limelight with a vengeance, with three new films and baby No. 2 on the way, here’s how she’s been able to live relatively privately in the meantime.
First of all, the 35-year-old actress isn’t on social media. So, unlike so many stars, she doesn’t voluntarily provide any behind-the-scenes peeks of what she’s up to, at work or at home, to the hungry masses. We don’t see her weighing in on world events or any other controversy within seconds, she doesn’t live-tweet her favorite shows and she doesn’t share baby pics. or engage in #TBTs.
No wonder she seems to “disappear” more than most.
But in addition to her nonexistent social media footprint, though she and Millepied just moved back to Los Angeles… Paris je t’aime, indeed.
Portman relocated to the City of Light with her French husband in 2014 when Millepied was appointed director of dance for the Paris Opera Ballet. Not only did that mean she was leaving the fishbowl life of being a celebrity in Los Angeles, but the family—which by then included then-3-year-old son Aleph, was able to take advantage of France’s strict privacy laws.
In fact, though this hardly stops the rest of the world’s media (or certain publications in France, either), it’s against the law there to publish private information about a person without his or her express permission. Kinda puts a damper on the flow of information, but it’s great if you’re a star trying to maintain a semblance of privacy (not to mention, it’s food for thought…).
“I get really bored reading about myself,” Portman told Vanity Fair all the way back in 2006, and her give-when-necessary relationship with the media has never really changed.
After moving to France, Portman also doubled down on challenging herself, leaving the Thor franchise behind her (she’s not in the upcoming third installment, Thor: Ragnarok) and instead signing up to play Jacqueline Kennedy, working with the legendarily un-prolific Terrence Malick and pursuing her dream of bringing Amos Oz‘s autobiographical novel A Tale of Love and Darkness to the big screen.
She can now check all of those things off her list.
Malick’s Knight of Cups came out earlier this year, with Portman playing a woman once wronged by Christian Bale‘s tortured screenwriter, and Pablo Larrain‘s Jackie just had its world premiere at the 2016 Venice Film Festival, where it’s screening in competition.
Asked if playing the suddenly widowed first lady was her toughest role yet, Portman told Variety it was “definitely up there.”
Jackie, Natalie Portman
And it turned out Portman had another film screening in Venice too, out of competition: the drama Planetarium, in which she and Lily-Rose Depp play American sisters who take their psychic act—Depp’s a medium and Portman’s her manager—on the road in 1930s-era France.
So she’s been busy—and also strategic, signing on to do a lot of work close to home, including Jackie, which was shot partly in France.
But it was the culmination of her passion project, A Tale of Love and Darkness, in which she also stars, that kept her off the beaten paparazzi path most of all.
Natalie Portman, A Tale of Love and Darkness
Portman, who launched her production company Handsomecharlie Films with the intention of providing more opportunities to female filmmakers, entirely spearheaded the making of A Tale, knowing that starring in it herself would help with the financing—and allow her to execute the vision she’d had for years about the story, a novelized take on Oz’s childhood relationship with his mother, who suffered from depression while living in Jerusalem during Israel’s infancy in the days after World War II.
“I’d love to,” Portman told Business Insider recently when asked if she wanted to direct again. “I don’t have a particular plan right now because I’ve been so focused of getting this into the world that I feel now that it’s coming out that I can really think about that more.”
The soon-to-be mother of two—who was rumored to be upset when Patty Jenkins was replaced as director of Thor: The Dark World—is also still committed to supporting female filmmakers, whom, she says, seem to be more commonplace in France.
Planetarium, Lily Rose Depp, Natalie Portman
“I mean, I’ve been working for almost 25 years and made over 40 films and I worked with my first female director, on a feature, last year [Planetarium‘s Rebecca Zlotowski],” she told Business Insider. And it’s still the only one. But now I feel like in the past year I’d say I got three or four offers for films that had female directors, so in my career I haven’t had that opportunity before. That’s exciting.”
Count Portman as a member of that dwindling class of celebrity who doesn’t put herself out there unless it’s on behalf of the craft—her work, or the work of someone else she believes in. And while paparazzi will have more chances than they’ve had in ages to snap pics of Portman on the move, now that she’s back in L.A. with her growing family, don’t expect her to relinquish her hold on her private life anytime soon.
“It is interesting, just generationally, that you see that people are much more comfortable, and [social media is] part of life now for this next generation of actors and just people in the world,” she said. “But for those of us who were living when it didn’t exist, it feels like the last thing you want to do. It’s so much unwanted interest in your privacy that you don’t want to invite anymore.”
And that’s how a celebrity lives as quiet a life as possible in 2016.