Natalie Portman reveals the only older male director who wasn't creepy to her

Natalie Portman has hailed the late Mike Nichols for his consistent professionalism

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 02: Actress Natalie Portman discusses "Lucy in the Sky" with the Build Series at Build Studio on October 02, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Natalie Portman has called Mike Nichols a ‘genuine feminist’ after working with the late director on two occasions. 

The Thor: Love and Thunder actress commended her former mentor in the recently published biography, Mike Nichols: a Life, for his consistent professionalism on-set. 

Speaking with author Mark Harris, Natalie refers to the multi-award-winning director as “the only older man who mentored me without there ever being a creepy element in it."

Natalie first met Nichols at the age of 19, when she was cast in his 2001 theatre production of the Seagull alongside Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The up-and-coming actress was nervous about working with the Hollywood heavyweights at the time but was quickly put at ease by the esteemed director. 

“There was nothing, nothing, nothing there except him seeing you as a creative, interesting, talented human,” Natalie said. 

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Mike did not use his authority to exploit younger actresses. Instead, he's respectfully treated his female co-workers as human beings first and foremost, valuing their skills rather than viewing them as sexual objects. 

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Clive Owen, Natalie Portman, Mike Nichols and Jude Law at the Closer Premiere in Los Angeles

(Image credit: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty)

“It is the rarest, finest quality, and not many directors of his generation had it,” Natalie continued. 

The Oscar-winning actress worked with Nichols for the second time in the popular 2004 film Closer. 

Natalie recalls he maintained a respectful attitude throughout production, but especially during the shooting of her character’s strip scene. 

“He wants to see my bare ass [even] less than my father would,” the Israeli-American actress told Mark. 

The book went on to detail Nichols’ commitment to ensuring Natalie felt comfortable in the intimate scene. The veteran director openly communicated with her during filming, reducing nudity, adjusting the angles, and guiding her through the process. 

Sadly, Nichols passed away at the age of 82 from a heart attack in 2014, but his legacy prevails in his impressive body of work, as well as in the words of his surviving friends and colleagues. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.