(LOS ANGELES) — Natalie Portman revealed on Saturday that she was the object of a rape fantasy at the age of 13 and gave up on numerous roles while suffering through what she called an “environment of sexual terrorism.”
The Oscar-winning actress spoke from a stage before thousands of people in downtown Los Angeles as part of the Women’s March, according to a CNN report.
Portman turned 12-years-old when on the set of “The Professional,” where her drug-dealing father and the rest of her family are killed by crooked cops and she mounts a revenge and forges a bond with a mob hitman named Léon played by Jean Reno.
After the film was released in 1994, Portman said, she was excited she was to receive her first fan mail, only “to read a rape fantasy that a man had written me,” according to CNN.
She said that critics “talked about my budding breasts in reviews.”
“I understood very quickly, even as a 13-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually I would feel unsafe and that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body to my great discomfort.”
She said that the shame compounded when a local radio station established a “countdown” until Portman turned 18 — “euphemistically the date that I would be legal to sleep with,” she said.
She said she turned down acting roles “that involved a kissing scene” and turned to ones that “emphasized how bookish I was and how serious I was,” adding it had an impact on the way she dressed.
Portman said she expressed herself as “prudish, conservative, nerdy and serious” to be heard and feel safe.
“At 13 years old, the message from our culture was clear to me: I felt the need to cover my body and to inhibit my expression and my work in order to send my own message to the world that I’m someone worthy of safety and respect,” Portman said. “The response to my expression, from small comments about my body to more threatening deliberate statements, served to control my behavior through an environment of sexual terrorism.”
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