Natalie Portman Says the Idea of a ‘Female Gaze’ Is ‘Reductive of Women’s Individuality’

Natalie Portman may be an outspoken feminist and co-founder of a female-driven soccer club (Angel City FC), but she isn’t a believer in the so-called “female gaze.”

In an interview with Vanity Fair France for the magazine’s 10-year anniversary issue, conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike, Portman argued that “to say that a female director has a particular gaze is reductive of women’s individuality and points of view.”

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The Harvard-educated actor also said that gender isn’t a factor when she chooses projects. “Female directors should have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. But the experience of working with a director has to do with the individual and it doesn’t relate to gender,” Portman said.

Portman, who recently relocated to Paris with her husband Benjamin Millepied and their two children, also discussed her upcoming project “May December,” directed by Todd Haynes.

In “May December” (which she co-produced via her banner MountainA), Portman plays Elizabeth Berry, a famous actress preparing for a role who travels to Savannah to meet Gracie (Julianne Moore), a character loosely inspired by Mary Kay Letourneau. During her stay, Elizabeth develops ambivalent feelings towards Gracie and her 30-something husband Joe, with whom she started having an unlawful relationship when he was 13.

Speaking of Haynes’ non-judgmental approach to the film’s polemical subject, Portman said he “has an in-depth understanding of human behavior. His female characters are complex and multidimensional.”

Portman was also questioned by Vanity Fair France about her experience making her film debut at the age of 11 in Luc Besson’s “Leon: The Professional.” In the thriller, she plays Mathilda, a 12-year-old orphan, who develops a romantic bond with a hitman (Jean Reno). While she was quoted in The Hollywood Reporter in May saying that there were “some cringey, to say the least, aspects” to the movie, she told the French mag that she has happy memories of the shoot. “Everyone treated me like a kid and took care of me. Everyday was like my birthday,” Portman said. “Leon: The Professional,” however, didn’t make the cut as part of the tribute to Portman at the Deauville Film Festival last weekend.

Headed by Olivier Bouchara since Sept. 2021, Vanity Fair France has established a strong footprint and DNA in the local media landscape with a mix of celebrity interviews such as Portman, Cate Blanchett, Scarlet Johansson, Michael Douglas and Omar Sy, along with award-winning investigative stories. Some of their recent long-form features include the inside story of Moderna, the once-thriving biotech startup which had promised to deliver its COVID-19 vaccine before the first lockdown in March 2020.

Bouchara previously headed the investigative unit of the Conde Nast magazine and secured interviews with controversial figures embroiled in scandals, including Vjeran Tomic, a bulgar nicknamed Spider-Man who was jailed for stealing five 20th-century masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. He’s also behind a series of bombshell articles about the flamboyant scammers who conned the EU carbon quota system and swindled the French state of at least $1.7 billion. After his investigative series went viral, Bouchara went on to write “Lords of Scam,” one of Netflix’s biggest French documentary hits to date.

Here’s the 10-year anniversary cover of Vanity Fair France, featuring Natalie Portman photographed at the Bristol Hotel in Paris:

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