Where I live, nobody who's fourteen is having sex and doing major drugs. And I think if you see it in the movies, you may be influenced by it. I think it's so important to preserve your innocence.
Ingenue interview, March 1996 by Ted Demme, Ingrid Sischy
I don't mean to criticize anyone in any way that I wouldn't criticize myself. I think people should have fun, and have a good time, and enjoy the luck that we have to be lazy and dwell in consumerism. But I think that it's a balance. And our job as actors is empathy. Our job is to imagine what someone else's life is like. And if you can't do that in real life, if you can't do that as a human being, then good luck as an actor.... I just think it's an important thing to engage in the world. And it's just too easy not to in our society.
Inside the Actor's Studio interview by James Lipton, New School University, November 21, 2004
It was wonderful playing a young queen with so much power. I think it will be good for young women to see a strong woman of action who is also smart and a leader.
Natalie Portman, quoted in The Phantom Menace "Production Notes".
It’s weird that there are so many people at Harvard who do amazing things outside the classroom. It just so happens that people like to watch what I do.
I grew up in the classic American-Jewish suburbia, which has a whole different sense of what it means to be Jewish than anywhere else in the world.
You know, I get much more Jewish in Israel because I like the way that religion is done there.
I had a fashion designer tell me that when I wear a dress of his, it sells out across the country because Jewish girls ‘look to me,’ and Jewish girls are the ones that buy expensive dresses. It made me sad, because I want to be an influence in ways other than by a pretty dress.
There’s so much goodness there, and such a value placed on education, which is sort of universal among Jews around the world. I appreciate that obviously, to be a part of that.
My response was that more than half of Israelis are of Sephardic origin. Many of these Jews come from Arab lands and share the same physical skin color.
On allegations of racism in Israel
I’d like it if people thought I was Jewish-looking.
I’ve taught at Harvard, Dartmouth and Vassar, and I’ve had the privilege of teaching a lot of very bright kids. There are very few who are as inherently bright as Natalie is, who have as much intellectual horsepower, who work as hard as she did. She didn’t take a single thing for granted.