Natalie Portman Admits That She Felt ‘Afraid’ After ‘Being Sexualised’ As A Child Actress

"Being sexualised as a child, I think, took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid"

Natalie Portman has been a driving force when it comes to supporting women. But now, she has opened up about how she felt “afraid” during her career after being “sexualised” as a child actress.

In a recent episode of Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert Podcast, the Black Swan star revealed that she felt like she had to play a “Lolita figure” in one of her earliest roles, playing 13-year-old Marty in 1996’s Beautiful Girls

Beginning her career in Hollywood when she was 12-years-old, Portman spoke out about how her character developed a relationship with an older man, Willie Conway, played by Timothy Hutton. And made points of comparison to Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel Lolita, about a teenage girl who also engages in a relationship with a much older character.

“I was definitely aware of the fact that like, I was being portrayed—like mainly in the kind of journalism around when the movies would come out—as this Lolita figure and stuff,” she revealed to Shepard.

“Being sexualised as a child, I think, took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid, and it made me like the way I could be safe was to be like, ‘I’m conservative’, and ‘I’m serious and you should respect me’, and ‘I’m smart’, and ‘Don’t look at me that way’,” she added.

Natalie Portman
(Credit: Getty Images)

Continuing, she went on to admit how at that age, she wanted to explore her sexuality but felt as if she couldn’t, saying: “At that age, you do have your own sexuality, and you do have your own desire, and you do want to explore things, and you do want to be open.”

“But you don’t feel safe, necessarily, when there’s, like, older men that are interested, and you’re like, ‘No, no, no, no’.”

As a result of her troubled childhood in the spotlight, Portman believes that it was what informed her decision-making and forced her to create emotional walls in order to protect herself.

“So many people had this impression of me that I was super serious and conservative… and I realised I consciously cultivated that because it was always to make me feel safe,” she admitted. “Like, ‘Oh, if someone respects you, they’re not gonna objectify you’.”

“When I was in my teens, I was like, ‘I don’t want to have any love scenes or make-out scenes’,” she said. “I would start choosing parts that were less sexy, because it made me worried about the way I was perceived and how safe I felt.”

Throughout her career, Portman has earned critical acclaim for films such as No Strings Attached, the Thor franchise and Black Swan, for which she won the ‘Best Actress’ award at the 2011 Academy Awards.

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