Natalie Portman Says Kids Should Avoid Working In Hollywood For Their Own Safety: “I Feel It Was Almost An Accident Of Luck That I Was Not Harmed”
In making a break from the popular sentiment of her industry, actress Natalie Portman has warned that, in light of the very real dangers it can pose to their very well-being, aspiring actors should avoid spending any amount of their childhood working in Hollywood.
The Thor: Love and Thunder star voiced her latest safety concerns while speaking to Variety’s Clayton Davis in promotion of her upcoming film May December.
Beginning their time together with a brief discussion on the current state of the industry, Davis asked generally of Portman, “As a former child actress who is now a mother, would you encourage your children to get into this industry? Or do you see enough change that it feels safe for them if they choose to get into it?”
In turn, the actress – who made her feature film debut at the age of 13 in Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional – firmly declared, “I would not [emphasis hers] encourage young people to go into this.”
She then clarified. “I don’t mean ever, I mean as children.”
“I feel it was almost an accident of luck that I was not harmed, also combined with very overprotective, wonderful parents,” explained the Star Wars prequel star. “You don’t like it when you’re a kid, and you’re grateful for it when you’re an adult. I’ve heard too many bad stories to think that any children should be part of it.”
“Having said that, I know all the conversations that we’ve been having these past few years,” concluded Portman. “It’s made people more aware and careful. But ultimately, I don’t believe that kids should work. I think kids should play and go to school.”
Notably – and in light of the numerous stories regarding abused child actors that seem to occupy the headlines, more than understandably – Portman is far from the first Hollywood actor to speak out against the industry’s abhorrent treatment of its younger talent.
For a recent example, 2022 saw Godzilla vs Kong star Millie Bobby Brown decry the fact that, since her then-recent 18th birthday, she had “definitely seeing a difference between the way people act and the way the press and social media have reacted to me becoming of age.”
“In my opinion I believe that [coming of age] shouldn’t change anything but it’s gross, and it’s true,” Brown told host Deborah Frances-White during an appearance on the 301st episode of The Guilty Feminist podcast. “So I think it’s just a very a good representation of what’s going on in the world and how young girls are sexualised. I have been dealing with that, but I have also been dealing with that for forever.”
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Likewise, speaking to the topic during an interview with The New York Times given earlier that same year, Riverdale star Cole Sprouse noted that while he and his brother faced their own fair share of disgusting sexualization during their tenure as child stars on Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, their experiences paled in comparison to those faced by the network’s young female actresses.
“‘My brother and I used to get quite a bit of, ‘Oh, you made it out! Oh, you’re unscathed!’” recalled Sprouse. “No. The young women on the channel we were on [Disney Channel] were so heavily sexualized from such an earlier age than my brother and I that there’s absolutely no way that we could compare our experiences.”
“When we talk about child stars going nuts, what we’re not actually talking about is how fame is a trauma,” he continued. “So I’m violently defensive against people who mock some of the young women who were on the channel when I was younger because I don’t feel like it adequately comprehends the humanity of that experience and what it takes to recover.”
“To be quite honest, as I have now gone through a second big round of this fame game as an adult, I’ve noticed the same psychological effects that fame yields upon a group of young adults as I did when I was a child,” he further decried. “I just think people have an easier time hiding it when they’re older.”