In 1993, she auditioned for the role of an orphan child who befriends a middle-aged hitman (played by Jean Reno) in Luc Besson's film, Léon: The Professional.
Soon after getting the part, she took her paternal grandmother's maiden name, "Portman", as her stage name in the interest of privacy and to protect her family's identity.
She was later cast as Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy (released in 1999, 20).
Born in Jerusalem to an Israeli father and American mother, Portman grew up in Jericho, New York from the age of three.
Also in 2005, Portman filmed Free Zone and director Miloš Forman's Goya's Ghosts.