How do you go from child star to Oscar-nominated powerhouse before you turn 30? Make smart choices and try to keep your head on straight. Here's a quick guide to the career path of the Black Swan star.
MAKE AN INDELIBLE IMPRESSION
At 11, Portman made her screen debut in Luc Besson's action blowout The Professional, holding her own opposite Jean Reno and a frothing Gary Oldman. Her complex and unforgettable performance - which is even more impressive in the expanded international cut - instantly put her on the radar as one of the year's biggest finds.
ESTABLISH YOUR RANGE
Not too many 13-year-olds can get away with calling themselves old souls, but as the eerily mature New England neighbour kid who provides invaluable guidance to Timothy Hutton's rootless piano player in Ted Demme's Beautiful Girls, Portman proved that her Professional turn was no fluke.
And as Al Pacino's troubled stepdaughter in Heat, Portman keeps a thinly drawn character from falling into total stereotype.
ASSOCIATE YOURSELF WITH A BLOCKBUSTER FRANCHISE
Okay, so nobody actually enjoyed the Star Wars prequels, but doing them made Portman a household name - and she can honestly say that she's never the worst thing in any of her scenes, especially when Hayden Christensen is sharing the frame.
DON'T ALWAYS CHASE THE STARRING ROLE
Portman doesn't have much screen time in Cold Mountain, but she wanted to work with director Anthony Minghella, who cast her as a young widow who tempts Jude Law to abandon his journey home. And in Garden State, Portman riffs on her Beautiful Girls role as the free-spirited sprite who teaches Zach Braff to stop moping and listen to the Shins (above).
DON'T GET STUCK PLAYING A TYPE
In 2004, Portman pushed back against her good-girl image by playing a dreamy stripper entangled with Jude Law and Clive Owen in Mike Nichols's chilly adaptation of Patrick Marber's Closer - and landed an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. (She lost to Cate Blanchett.)
Two years later, she sent up her squeaky-clean rep in a Saturday Night Live digital short, rapping about getting high at Harvard and generally refusing to be anyone's role model. ("All the kids lookin' up to me can suck my dick!") It's a Shatner-scale repudiation of her image.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO GET POLITICAL
The first nine minutes of Amos Gitai's Free Zone consist of nothing but Portman weeping in close-up, shot through a car window. That'd make any actor think twice about signing on, and the rest of the movie is a metaphorical take on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, was the perfect choice to play a visiting American plunged into the quagmire of Middle East politics.
DON'T GET COMFORTABLE
In addition to her day job as a movie star, Portman has done live theatre, making her Broadway debut as Anne Frank in a 1997 production of The Diary Of Anne Frank, and playing Nina in an acclaimed Central Park production of The Seagull opposite Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Christopher Walken. That was a summer show; when the run ended, Portman went back to Harvard to work on her psychology degree.