Natalie Portman shot to instant stardom before she was even a teenager, and she became a sex-symbol while merely a child. Her singular performance in Luc Besson's Léon was passionate and multi-layered probably beyound her own comprehension and it put enourmous pressure on her young shoulders.
After Léon, however, Portman chose roles with the greatest of care. Worried that she'd be typecast as a kittensque sex-symbol, Portman said no to the lead in Adrian Lyne's Lolita, but still made one of her best peformances in a similar role opposite Timothy Hutton in Beautiful Girls. Insignificant roles in Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You and Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! before she gave a lacklustre performance in George Lucas rejuvenation of Star Wars.
Portman's transition to full-fledged grown up roles has been long anticipated, and through a series of roles in 2003 and 2004, she put herself back on the map of up and coming youngsters. The potential, both critically and commercially, for Portman is arguably without limits. Her talent, looks and intelligence can make her the biggest female filmstar of her time.
"The less traditional role belongs to an impressive Natalie Portman, yet another member of the highly-talented, recent group of youthful actors." - James Berardinelli
"Matilda is played with great resourcefulness by Portman" - Roger Ebert
"Portman, playing a charming, precocious 13-year old who develops a crush on Willie, deserves special recognition." - James Berardinelli
"Portman, in what has been called her first truly adult role (it's certainly nowhere close to Queen Amidala), is also very, very good. Like Owen, she must essay a character who undergoes a complete personality transformation - from vulnerable waif to ice queen seductress. There's a rawness and courage to her work." - James Berardinelli
"Natalie Portman, in her first challenging adult role, confirmes the talent that has been transparent since her extraordinary debut in Léon ten years ago." - Fredrik Fevang
Léon (Jean Reno): And stop saying "okay" all the time. Okay?
Mathilda (Portman): Leon, I think I'm falling in love with you. It's the first time for me, you know?
Mathilda (Portman): I don't give a shit about sleeping, Leon. I want love, or death. That's it.
Mathilda (Portman): I don't wanna lose you, Leon."
Marty (Portman): I might just grow to be five-ten. I'll be hot
Marty (Portman): If I'm not mistaken, you've come back here to the house of loneliness and tears, to Daddy Downer and Brother Bummer, to come to some sort of decision about life, a life decision if you will.
Marty (Portman): Alas, poor Romeo, we can't do diddly.
Paul (Michael Rapaport): So you're the little neighborhood Lolita.