Natalie Portman, From Ballet to the Supreme Court Bench

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Natalie Portman has gone a bit under the radar since getting married and having a baby after winning the Oscar for her performance as a mentally unstable ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan in 2010, but the actress is about to be back in the spotlight with several upcoming projects.

We’ll see her in Terrence Mallick’s highly anticipated Knight of Cups, and Deadline reports that she’s lining up a project to play Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a biopic called On the Basis of Sex, with The Diary of a Teenage Girl helmer Marielle Heller in negotiations to direct. This project will be a timely one, as Hillary Clinton’s presidential run will have people thinking about the sexism women in politics have to overcome.

Ginsburg is the second female Supreme Court justice, after Sandra Day O’Connor, and the first Jewish female justice. Ginsberg has become known for her fights for gender equality and the struggles she had to endure in order to reach her place in the Supreme Court. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Clinton and has since fought hard for gender equality and women’s rights. This year in its Time 100 issue, Time Magazine named her an icon.

This material is right up Portman’s alley, as the actress is also an outspoken feminist and Jewish. Portman is known for having good taste in the projects she chooses, and has other films that are going to build attention around herself before this begins shooting the Ginsburg biopic at the end of the year.

Portman is about to come out with her directorial debut A Tale of Love and Darkness, which will be much talked-about by the film industry. The film, which is set in Israel and was filmed completely in Hebrew, was a big artistic risk for a first-time filmmaker, and many will be watching to see how she succeeds at making movies. Portman not only directed, but also adapted the script from Amos Oz’s memoir and stars in the film.

Heller has herself been receiving raves for her debut The Diary of a Teenage Girl, which premiered at Sundance and stars Kristen Wiig and Bel Powley. The movie is about a young girl who undergoes an artistic and sexual awakening in San Francisco during the 1970s, which she begins by having an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. That movie has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and indicates a strong feminist voice that would be perfect for a biopic about Ginsburg.

Portman’s performance in Knight of Cups earned good reviews out of Berlin, and though a movie in Hebrew addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn’t going to be a hit at the box office, her intention is to honor Oz’s novel and make an artistically strong movie.

The attention she’s about to get from these two films plus the timeliness of Ginsburg’s story will likely make On the Basis of Sex an awards contender. Though Portman recently referred to her Oscar for Black Swan as “a false idol” in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she might end up winning another one of the awards for playing the Supreme Court justice.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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