But the Oscar-winning was hindered by “a shyness about being a woman and putting myself in [a film she directed].” Said Portman, “I remember as a kid, when Barbra Streisand would make movies that she was in, people would say, ‘Oh it’s vanity, it’s a vanity thing.'”
Portman wrote, directed, and stars in “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” a Hebrew-language adaptation of novelist Amos Oz’s memoir about a family struggling to survive after moving from Ukraine to Israel at the beginning of the latter country’s existence. Portman plays the protagonist’s mother, Fania, who struggles to adjust to life in a far more socially conservative and culturally impoverished milieu. (See below for a clip in which Portman’s character tells her son a bedtime parable.)
The actress credits Lena Dunham for helping her get over the fear of being called names.
“‘Tiny Furniture’ was a revelation to me because — just the credits — I was crying because it said written by Lena Dunham, starring Lena Dunham, directed by Lena Dunham,” she said. “I was overwhelmed because I was like, look at this young woman… who has no fear about people thinking she’s vain. But it’s totally about women — no one has ever said about a man who puts himself in his films that it’s vanity.”
Once she finally got in the director’s chair, Portman found it to be a refreshingly authoritative experience. “It was exciting to have the position where people were asking me for my vision,” she said. “I feel that they should have all girls do it in school,” she added. “It’s sort of surprising, as a woman, when you’re asked your opinion and your direction and your lead hundreds of times a day. It’s good training for your voice and for the development of your own voice.”
“We’re still supposed to be caring about everyone else around us and putting other people first,” she said. “I think it’s really changing for the younger generation.”
Portman is attached to star in biopics about Jackie Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.