Natalie Portman’s 1994 feature film debut, Leon: The Professional, is currently streaming on Netflix. Billed as an action crime thriller, the film is directed by Luc Besson. The movie is known for its intense storytelling, powerful performances, and thought-provoking themes. The story follows Leon (played by Jean Reno), a highly skilled hitman living in New York City.
Leon’s life takes an unexpected turn when he becomes the reluctant guardian of Mathilda (played by Natalie Portman), a twelve-year-old girl whose family is murdered by corrupt DEA agents led by Norman Stansfield (played by Gary Oldman). Mathilda, left traumatized and vulnerable after witnessing the brutal murder of her family, seeks refuge with Leon.
As Mathilda learns about Leon’s profession, she becomes determined to avenge her family’s death and convinces him to teach her how to become an assassin. The pair eventually forms an unconventional father-daughter relationship. However, Mathilda’s desire for vengeance puts their lives at risk, with the relentless and psychotic Stansfield hot on their trail.
Written and directed by Luc Besson, Leon: The Professional received widespread acclaim upon its release. Critics praised the film for its performances, particularly that of Natalie Portman. Reno’s portrayal of Leon also received high praise, while Gary Oldman’s villainous portrayal of Stansfield was lauded for its chilling intensity.
Interestingly, the film is known by different titles in various countries.
The Natalie Portman film currently holds a critics rating of 74 percent on review aggregator on Rotten Tomatoes. The site’s general consensus describes the movie as a stylish and oddly affecting thriller. Leon: The Professional performed moderately well at the global box office, earning approximately $45 million against a production budget of $16 million.
Interestingly, the film is known by different titles in various countries. It was originally released as The Professional in the United States and some other English-speaking regions. However, in other countries, it is known as Leon.
Natalie Portman’s audition for the role of Mathilda was a standout moment during the casting process.
Despite being only 11 years old at the time, Natalie Portman immediately impressed Besson, securing her the role. The film’s original version released in some regions had scenes cut for the US release. These scenes showed a more explicit version of Mathilda’s affection for Leon, which was considered controversial for American audiences.
Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Stansfield was heavily influenced by the performances of Jean-Paul Belmondo, a French actor Oldman admired. The film has gained a cult following over the years and remains highly regarded in the action-crime thriller genre. Natalie Portman went on to star in various notable films across different genres.
Despite being only 11 years old at the time, Natalie Portman immediately impressed Besson, securing her the role.
In 1995, she appeared in Michael Mann’s crime thriller Heat, Tim Burton’s science fiction comedy Mars Attacks! in 1996, and Ted Demme’s romantic comedy Beautiful Girls. Three years later, she shared the screen with Hollywood heavyweight Susan Sarandon in Anywhere But Here, where her supporting role as a responsible daughter of a narcissistic mother earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination.
Natalie Portman’s career took a monumental leap when she portrayed Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. She starred alongside Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. She reprised her role in the sequels Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones in 2002 and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith in 2005.
Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Stansfield was heavily influenced by the performances of Jean-Paul Belmondo, a French actor Oldman admired.
While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Harvard University, Natalie Portman’s acting career continued to flourish. She played Evey Hammond in the 2005 film V for Vendetta and Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl in 2008. However, it was her performance as a troubled ballerina in the 2010 psychological horror film Black Swan that earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress.
In 2011, Natalie Portman entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring as Jane Foster in Thor opposite Chris Hemsworth. Her subsequent roles in Thor: The Dark World (2013) and Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) solidified her status in Hollywood as one of the industry’s most sought-after and highest-paid actresses.
Natalie Portman’s next projects include May December, which premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival. Billed as a romantic drama, the film is directed by Todd Haynes from a screenplay by Samy Burch. The story follows an actress who travels to Georgia to meet and study the life of a woman she is set to portray in a film.
Natalie Portman will also star in Lady in the Lake for AppleTV+. The limited series is based on the Laura Lippman novel of the same name. Set in 1960s Baltimore, the story follows an investigative journalist working on an unsolved murder. She eventually becomes obsessed with unraveling two separate killings. Since these projects are yet to be released, folks can catch Leon: The Professional on Netflix.