Natalie Portman Says She Stays Away From Jewish Roles

Natalie Portman Says She Stays Away From Jewish Roles

Natalie Portman Says She Stays Away From Jewish Roles

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Jan. 8 2010 3:43 PM

Natalie Portman Says She Stays Away From Jewish Roles

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In the February issue of Elle UK , Natalie Portman says , "I've always tried to stay away from playing Jews." Then she adds, "I get like 20 Holocaust scripts a month, but I hate the genre." Because the entire interview is not online, I am going to give Portman the benefit of the doubt. I don't think she's a self-loather who doesn't want movie audiences to know she's Jewish (though she benefits from looks that are not stereotypically Semitic-her nose is small, her hair is straight). It's more that she's lamenting the lack of good Jewish roles outside of Holocaust movies. There, she has a point.

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In the past ten years, I can think of only two non-Holocaust movies in which the female protagonist was explicitly Jewish: Two Lovers and Kissing Jessica Stein . It's worth noting that both these films were independent productions, and that in Two Lovers , Vinessa Shaw's Jewish character was meant to be less attractive than Gwyneth Paltrow's character, who is a shiksa (though in real life both Paltrow and Shaw are at least part Jewish). I literally cannot think of a single major studio picture with a Jewish heroine from the aughts-if you can name one, please list in the comments below. That's certainly something worth complaining about in fashion magazines.