Carlos Acosta, the ballet dancer who starred in the short that Natalie wrote and directed for “New York, I Love You”, talks about how Natalie helped him find his acting feet.

‘She’s very bright, and she took a very big chance engaging me in New York, I Love You,’ he says. Portman’s piece was about an inter-racial relationship between two separated parents and their daughter.

‘The producers thought she was crazy. On the first day of practice, I was in her apartment reading the script in this dead voice, and I could see these professional actors looking at me and thinking, “This guy is the main character?” I was nervous about translating to that medium, but she kept calm and she never pressured me, and little by little I gained confidence.’

He commiserated with Portman regularly during the filming of Black Swan, when she faced a gruelling routine to play the part of Nina, a ballerina disintegrating psychologically under the pressure of her lead role in Swan Lake. ‘Her profile of a classical ballerina was very credible,’ he enthuses. ‘Classical ballet requires a lot of physical strength, and I can imagine how difficult it must have been for her to learn, in only a few months, how to dance with pointe shoes.