Natalie Portman: ‘Once You Have Kids, There’s Such Joy In Someone Taking Care Of You’

Plus, her red carpet secret skincare weapon.

Natalie Portman

by Verity Clark |
Published on

It’s early on a Monday morning in LA but, despite the unforgiving wake-up call, there’s a gentle, happy sigh from Natalie Portman. She is learning to enjoy some me- time. Rare for one of the most recognisable – and hardworking – actors on the planet.

Portman has recently wrapped filming on a new Apple TV+ murder-mystery series, Lady In The Lake, and is in the US before heading to London to start shooting Guy Ritchie’s latest gangster romp, Fountain
Of Youth
. But it’s not just the break from work that Portman is revelling in. ‘My kids (Aleph, 12, and Amalia, seven) are older and more independent,’ she tells me over Zoom. ‘I’m back to being able to do more for myself, which is exciting.’

Hers is a career that has been a nonstop carousel of film sets, travel and red carpets. It is refreshing, then, to hear Portman, winner of a Best Actress Oscar for Black Swan, delight in the mundane routine of the everyday. ‘When you have really young kids and you’re trying to make it through the day, if you can get clothes on them, that feels like an achievement,’ she says. ‘Now they’re older I have the time to dry my hair, put some make-up on, choose a nice outfit and not feel harried all the time.’

Scent is also central to Portman’s self-care rituals, a way to make her feel like herself. ‘Every part of my routine is very scent-oriented,’ she says. ‘It’s very important to me how things smell, I choose everything from my hair and body wash to my face moisturiser based on the scent.’ What kind of fragrance is she drawn to? ‘I grew up around a lot of citrus groves because I visited Israel a lot,’ she tells me (the 42-year- old is Israeli-born), ‘so orange and citrus blossom are very evocative of my childhood.’

It is her memories of jasmine, though, that ignite an immediate affinity with the new Miss Dior parfum. ‘In my twenties, I spent time in North Africa, in Morocco and Tunisia, and the smell of night jasmine takes me back to the desert right away.’ The green, floral notes of Provencal jasmine lie at the heart of the latest iteration of the iconic Miss Dior. The parfum version has been dreamt up by famed perfumer Francis Kurkdjian and is an intoxicating blend of juicy florals and woody accents. ‘It’s really magical,’ says Portman. ‘Scent is such an underappreciated, underexperienced sense; it’s such a big part of our life.’

Portman is part of the fabric of the Dior family; she’s been the face of Miss Dior since 2011. It’s a relationship that she is equal parts proud and fond of. ‘It’s been extraordinary to get to be a part of this brand and to see how they celebrate women,’ she enthuses. Her adoration of the house has only deepened with the arrival of two powerful women: Maria Grazia Chiuri as creative director and Delphine Arnault as CEO. ‘Seeing the company lean into its identity in such a strong way, where it really feels as though women’s artistry and virtuosity is being celebrated, has been amazing.’

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 27: (EDITOR’S NOTE: Image has been retouched at the request of the client.) Natalie Portman attends the Christian Dior Womenswear Fall/Winter 2024-2025 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on February 27, 2024 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/WireImage for Christian Dior)

Talk turns to body image. Specifically, the impossible standards that Hollywood still imposes on its starlets. ‘It’s very hard to escape,’ Portman sighs. ‘You have to block it out as much as possible because it’s extremely dangerous.’ How does she shut it out? ‘Not being on social media, not reading anything about myself.’

One thing that has changed in the three decades that Portman has been in Hollywood is how much of a catwalk the red carpet has become. Every haute couture outfit, coiffed chignon and statement red lip is tabloid – and TikTok – fodder. ‘In my twenties there were no stylists, you wore what you liked, there wasn’t as much pressure on it.’ Does she miss that? ‘It meant there were more mistakes,’ she smiles, ‘but it allowed for more personal style. There’s not so much self expression when someone is choosing things for you.’

Natalie Portman at the preview for Christian Dior's "Miss Dior Exhibition - Stories of a Miss" in Tokyo, 2024
Natalie Portman at the preview for Christian Dior's "Miss Dior Exhibition - Stories of a Miss" in Tokyo, 2024 ©Photo by Yuichi YAMAZAKI / AFP) (Photo by YUICHI YAMAZAKI/AFP via Getty Images)

The red carpet is not a place she has always felt totally comfortable. ‘I used to feel very oppressed by the glamour of it all,’ she tells me. ‘I would think how superficial it was, how it doesn’t mean anything, this is not who I am.’ Today, though, it’s a different story. ‘I’m so grateful, it feels like such an opportunity to get pampered.’ What’s changed? ‘Having kids! Once you have kids there’s such joy in someone taking care of you and feeling like you’re your best self when you’re used to feeling like a mess.’

Surely, the impeccably put-together Portman never looks dishevelled? ‘I have a secret weapon,’ she laughs, ‘those Korean sheet face masks can really change everything. That’s the thing I do before
I go out or before a red carpet event.’

As a vegan, she’s conscious of eating healthily and is a fan of gyrotonics – a movement method that strengthens and stretches the body – and enjoys monthly massages. Which is lucky, considering she’s about to immerse herself in another hectic filming schedule. So much for time to herself. Not that Portman really minds. ‘After working for 30 years, it’s exciting to still be challenged.’

Shop: Natalie Portman's Self-Care Heroes

‘Wearing scent is something I do for my own pleasure rather than trying to smell good for anyone else. I want a scent that will make me happy all day, so I like to wear a light fragrance like the Eau de Parfum on a daily basis.'

‘These smell amazing; they are part of my daily joy.’

With 86% skincare ingredients, this lightweight formula is like a second-skin, with added luminosity built in.

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'I know I can improve my day because of the products I use and smells I can experience.’

'Day to day I prefer a natural look. A quick swipe of this black mascara and I’m out the door.’

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Verity Clark is the Acting Health & Beauty Director at Grazia. Previously contributing beauty editor at the Sunday Times Style Verity has almost a decade of experience writing about the beauty industry. She has worked with some of the industry’s most respected titles including Red, Good Housekeeping and Elle, and her aim is to demystify, and democratise, the conversation around beauty.

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