Natalie Portman reflects on ‘cringey’ Leon role: ‘It’s complicated for me’

Natalie Portman has reflected on her role in Léon, which led to her being “sexualised” as a child.

The actor made her debut in the Luc Besson film when she was 13, playing Mathilde, a young girl taken in by a hitman after the death of her family.

Portman described her views on the film, called Léon: The Professional in the US, as “complicated” in a new interview.

“It’s a movie that’s still beloved, and people come up to me about it more than almost anything I’ve ever made, and it gave me my career,” she told The Hollywood Reporter, adding: “But it is definitely, when you watch it now, it definitely has some cringey, to say the least, aspects to it. So, yes, it’s complicated for me.

When asked what she “feels” about the allegations of sexual abuse levied against Besson, Portman replied: “It’s devastating.”

She added: “I really didn’t know. I was a kid working. I was a kid. But I don’t want to say anything that would invalidate anyone’s experience.”

In 2020, Portman said she built “fortresses” to protect herself from the media after being painted as a “Lolita figure”.

Jean Reno and Natalie Portman in ‘Léon’ (Moviestore/Shutterstock)
Jean Reno and Natalie Portman in ‘Léon’ (Moviestore/Shutterstock)

“Being sexualised as a child, I think, took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid,” she said.

“It made me feel like the way I can be safe is 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.’”