Natalie & Me

By November 8, 2014Opinions

 
The “me” in question is Soraya Roberts, a writer and long (loooong) time Natalie fan. I’ve known Soraya for a few years and I think she’s known me for longer than that, having checked in on the site for many years. In recent times it’s been great seeing her career taking off and I’ve long been anticipating a piece relating to her complicated fandom. With Leon’s 20th anniversary upon us, she took the opportunity to finally write about her connection to Natalie.

I don’t agree with everything said, but I think it will resonate with a lot of people, even if the particulars are different from person to person.

I turned back to the band as she approached our corner — I didn’t want to stare. She had a beer in her hand and I felt the booth shudder as she climbed up and sat next to me. Neither my best friend nor my boyfriend was aware of her presence, but it was all I was aware of. I felt my heart flood with adrenalin as I turned to her and touched her shoulder. “Happy birthday, by the way,” I said (“By the way,” like the tail end of a conversation we had already been having). Natalie opened her mouth, equal parts shock and smile. “Thank you!” she said.

I didn’t introduce myself, I didn’t say anything else, I just sat there sharing a piece of upholstery with my proxy as she swigged her beer and listened to the music, the perfect fan, contained despite being anything but. That she didn’t move, that she didn’t try to see me seeing her, suggested a mutual respect (mine based in celebrity, hers in humanity). I was embarrassed when two guys cut across the room to invite her to a gig, like a truck ploughing through a perfectly harmonious countryside. But Natalie was polite. “I’m only in town for tonight,” she said.

Dazza

Author Dazza

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Join the discussion 26 Comments

  • Belerofonte says:

    I Kindly respect her opinion :), but I can not disagree more with this paragraph:

    “Darren Aronofsky had wanted Natalie for his ballet thriller since he saw her in The Professional; the two films acted as peak bookends to her career. She spent six months training, losing twenty pounds to play the absurdly uptight ballerina Nina Sayers. It was for this specifically that she won the Academy Award in 2011, rather than her acting, which was largely superficial. Her win was for discipline, not for talent, though she needn’t have had much in this case…”

    In my opinion, if Natalie wins this film is for playing, not for the “discipline”. And this ties in with one of the most critical is usually done to Natalie: loss of spontaneity and naturalness in their perfomances as it has been becoming an adult. Lots of fans (and non fans), calling for the disappearance of the “spark” that saw her in Leon or Beautiful Girls. And while it is a legitimate criticism and somewhat understandable, I honestly think that is totally unfair.

    All the actors who began acting as a child inevitably ended up losing that naturalness, that being themselves (and many of them disappeared from the map because of it). For Natalie, it managed to survive that process thanks to interpretive resources where maybe the gears that operated are quite visible if the character or history are not well profiled (The Other Boleyn Girl, Thor or No string Attached are perfect examples for this). But I think in the case of films like Closer, V for Vendetta, The Other Woman, Brother or Black Swan, the critique is simply groundless.

    Maybe her approach to the interpretation now is much more cerebral and “conscious” than before, but I sincerely believe that many people (including some fans), is clearly underrated her by this…

    IMHO, of course 🙂

  • Juan234 says:

    With fans like Soraya, who needs enemies?

  • Dazza says:

    Well I use the term loosely. I think if we’re objective about it she is no longer a fan, but with a history like that, and when she still feels the need to (I believe) keep a close eye on her career, I think that can still qualify as a fan. I don’t think she would have written the piece if she had zero attachment.

  • Adonis says:

    Soraya has in some themes right, especially in terms of a few movies. But an important theme she has forgotten, Natalie’s best film, “Mathilda”. Who really loves Natalie must make attention to this sequel, no matter whether someone likes or not “Leon” … all need to feel that this is the fate film for Natalie. See ‘Lucy’ for example, a box office hit with not such a big story like Mathilda .

  • Nina says:

    She doesn’t sound like much of a fan to me. I don’t really understand the purpose of the piece. Why write about someone you don’t like. I don’t agree with her criticisms of Natalie either.

    • Dazza says:

      Why not write about something you don’t like? I don’t really understand that point. Take away all writing that isn’t advocacy and what do you have left?

      The piece is ultimately about Soraya (and her relationship to Natalie through the years), as her boyfriend summarized wonderfully “This is not about her, it’s about you”.

  • Nina says:

    Of course it’s necessary to be able to debate different issues. It just seems spiteful to write about someone you don’t like that has done nothing wrong. Criticising an actor in a professional review of a movie is understandable but this seems unnecessary. But I guess as the writer’s boyfriend said the piece is more about the writer than Natalie.

  • Dazza says:

    Eggzactly. It could just as easily be about a relationship but this is more interesting because it’s formative and longer lasting than most relationships. What happens when you love and self identify because of someone, only to fall out of love. Where does that leave you?

    And as I told her via email, she’s crazy about Closer/BG/Black Swan at the very least 😛

  • Soraya Roberts says:

    Thanks for the back-up, Dazza. As he explained, what compelled me to write the piece is not the mundane fact that I dislike Natalie Portman’s acting, but the fact that I dislike it after loving it so much initially. It came largely from questioning how much of my impression of NP became colored by my impression of her with respect to my impression of myself. I think that’s when relationships when our idols become complicated and worth exploring — when it involves exploring ourselves just as much.

    • spoonbat2008 says:

      Sup Dazza — dropped in today after a long break because I saw a news headline on another site that she’s doing potentially the Jobs piece — probably not a good idea because there are like 4 Jobs movies in the pipeline but I thought this piece was interesting. And to be truthful — reminds me of my younger years as a fan.

      I dunno if I would call myself a fan. I was very underwhelmed by Black Swan and all of her recent stuff. V for Vendetta is really the last movie she’s done that I can honestly say I enjoyed to any degree. Everything else has been either over-rated dreck or pure trash. Just my opinion. Ms. Roberts is correct and its odd seeing myself as a fan back in the 90s or whenever it was I 1st got hooked and involved in the web community here and on other sites.

      Hope everything is finding you well these days dazza. Hope rachel & allah are doing fine too and all the old crew. Peace.

      • Dazza says:

        Hey man

        Not sure what I would call you either, but your relationship to following Natalie was decidedly unhealthy towards the end, particularly regarding Ben.

        Hope you are well.

  • Ashley says:

    She did wonderful in Star Wars 1 2 3 playing Padme Sesame Street help Hopper while Alan is on vacation and work with Elmo doing the princess and the elephant she is good at ballet I want to be ballet dancer when I grow up playing Nina also Mr Magrium wonder empilium playing Molly Mahoney work with Dustin Hoffman Jason Bateman and Zach Mills she play piano everyday like me she played Jane Foster work with Chris Hemsworth Kat Dennings in Thor 1 and 2 I hope she will be in Thor 3 because I like her my friends too

    • Dazza says:

      I think that might be the most impressive piece of spam I’ve ever seen. I’ve read it 3 times now and I still can’t be certain.

  • Antienne says:

    Because even though she has not realized. There are two Natalie for her. The real Natalie. The actress. A personnality who is outside of her and that she observes the evolution since 20 years. And she will continue to monitor the developments. Because she is for her a source of affection and a successful model. The psychologists will say like a super-mother. A mother above her real mother. Since her needs of affection, or her own success are filled in her life, she naturally away from this Natalie to focus on her life.

    And then, there is her ideal Natalie. Her fantasy. A mental projection and construction of herself. The epitome of what she wanted to be. What she wanted to look like. What she wanted to be see. Read the beginning of the haircut, it’s a simple identification. And all the comparisons she makes between Natalie and herself. Their common links with France. Their fathers both doctor. Their passion for education. Their good girl image despite they like trash and dirty things.

    And especially the day when her boyfriend say to her. That she smile like Natalie Portman. I can easily imagine that the day she heard that. Her heart and head were on fireworks. Because that moment it was not a fantasy anymore. Because for once, it came from an outside perspective. The way she mix up Natalie memories as if they were part of her own memories. The T-Shirt Nesquick. Her raod trip in India. The night in the car with her friend. Prove that it’s not the real Natalie anymore. It’s not her acting, her career. It’s just her. An ideal reflection in the mirror of her.

    I really like to read this text. What she is talking throughout. This is how the two Natalie of her are dissociated from each other. The real Natalie making career choices that do not match the expectations of her ideal Natalie. The way the real Natalie don’t play like her ideal Natalie want to play. She just want to solve that antithesis. She wants her two Natalie to become one. This is what pushes her to be severe and critical. It’s just a psychological process in action.

    For myself. She is absolutely fan. Just the way she describes her met with Natalie in Toronto, every detail of the scene. His way to stay paralyzed the heart in rush. Her silence despite her best friend and her boyfriend next to her. How she was annoys to see two strangers arrive from nowhere, to try to stole Natalie from her. I Maybe wrong, but for me. She’s a fan. And she is in love with her. And it’s a complicated relationship for her. Because that love never come back. That why she’s a bit rude. And it is not because you criticize someone you do not love this person.

    • Dazza says:

      Oh, it didn’t auto publish – probably because of the length. It’s a great read so definitely not going to delete it unless you expressly want it gone.

      • Antienne says:

        If you think it’s a great read that Ok for me. After re-read I thought it was too long and it sounds nuts.

  • Antienne says:

    Wow ! Sorry for the huge wall. I ‘had not realized there were so much.

  • Antienne says:

    Can you delete Dazza please. I don’t mind.

  • Ashley says:

    Natalie portman won oscar for being best actress of black swan

  • Ash says:

    Did anyone else get a Single White Female vibe from that article?

  • Ming Choo says:

    Soraya,

    As I’m sure you’re aware, a lot of people who regularly comment on this site have a similar relationship with Natalie, including myself. In previous years, I was way more intense with the scrutiny of myself in comparison to Natalie. As a younger person 11 years Natalie’s junior, I was blown away by her ambition and self-possession. She presented herself in the way I always wished to present myself: focused, serious but not without comic relief, BEAUTIFUL, and relatable.
    Now as I’ve aged into a bonified adult, I realize that what we see in Natalie first caught the eye of some very astute Hollywood honchos who were prescient of a generation of high-achieving women who craved to be the woman Natalie thinks herself to be. This is to say also that Natalie, just like her cohorts, wants to be a certain type of women, and just like you and me, falls short of this ideal.

    So you see, it’s not so bad. The reason I come back to Natalie is because she is representative of something or someone. She is more of a symbol to me than a person. There is no dobut that she is rpbobably as lovely and smart as people say she is-as much as it is possible for a very attractive person to be in real life. But NP isn;t 100% real life, so that doesn;t entirely concern me.

  • Aurore2704 says:

    Like Soraya, I grow up with Natalie, a lot of Natalie’ women fans have grown up with Natalie. I’ve been a fan for 12 years now, she’s disapointed me some times, of course. But “my relationship” with her is not the same than Soraya, I’m still a fan where as she seems not. I totally understand her point of view. I could write a whole article about her too that in deed will be about me. Her article really moves me, this is why I can’t help to write a little comment here, because it’s touched me to see that Natalie have affected your young life like mine, because you are certainly the only ones to really understand it and not see it as a weird thing.

  • Dazza says:

    Aurore, Ming, Antienne – would you ladies mind dropping me an email?
    dazza darren at gmail dot com – hopefully you can work that out. No spaces.

  • Soraya Roberts says:

    Uhm, thanks, Ash.

  • Nina says:

    Having re-read the article and reading some of the comments on here it’s interesting to look at the effect that Natalie has had on their lives and my life. Being younger than Natalie I first noticed her in the Star Wars movies and became a bigger fan after watching Closer. I’ve never really followed her personal life and only took notice when she had a movie come out (maybe that makes me less of a fan?). Like many of Natalie’s female fans I too liked the fact that she appears intelligent, self possessed, classy, talented and is also beautiful. I guess she has qualities that many people would like to see in themselves as well as in others. To many she is the perfect person or a paragon of virtue. I’ve never placed her on a pedestal but I admit that I have been disappointed with some of her film choices. I remember not understanding why she would want to make Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. But reading in the article that she was only 25 when she made it (my age) made everything fall into place. Why would you give up the chance to make a movie in a toy shop!? At that age no one knows what they’re doing with their lives. You’re still figuring out who you are as a person and you’re bound to make mistakes or impulsive decisions. You learn from your life experiences. Maybe Natalie is more like us than we or the author believes. She’s a normal person complete with flaws and imperfections.