Natalie Portman may have won an Oscar for her work in Black Swan, but five years ago the actress could barely land a role.
The star revealed the frightening struggle in a recent New York Magazine article remembering her dear friend, the late director Mike Nichols.
After critics lambasted her acting in the 1999 blockbuster Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Portman had difficulty finding her next role until Nichols personally vouched for the actress. “Star Wars had come out around the time of Seagull, and everyone thought I was a horrible actress,” she said. “I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me. Mike wrote a letter to Anthony Minghella and said, “Put her in Cold Mountain, I vouch for her.’ And then Anthony passed me on to Tom Tykwer, who passed me on to the Wachowskis.”;
Portman and Nichols formed a strong bond after working together in the play The Seagull and 2004’s Closer. But Nichols was so much more than a professional mentor for Portman. Following a rough break up, she turned to the director to get back on her feet. “When I was 25, I had my heart broken—the rupture of my adolescence, the big heartbreak,”; she explained. “I was at his apartment on the floor, and he picked me up and gave me a pep talk and sent me to a doctor and straightened me out—literally peeled me off the floor.”;
Several other a-listers, including Robert Redford, Julia Roberts and Eric Idle, share their memories of the director with New York Magazine. Nichols died of a heart attack on November 19.