Natalie Portman made her film debut in 1994’s The Professional. As the only friend of a hit man, the 13-year-old earned rave reviews and quickly landed additional big-screen parts. Yet fame didn’t go to her head and she continued to live at home in Long Island, even while appearing on Broadway. Everything could have changed for Portman when she signed on as the heroine of the long-anticipated Star Wars prequels. But while the blockbuster movies turned her into an international superstar, Portman eschewed the usual pitfalls of young stardom and used her downtime to attend Harvard University. In 2004, a pair of winning performances reminded audiences that the brunette beauty could indeed act: Garden State director/writer/star Zach Braff handpicked her as his loopy love interest, and she netted an Oscar nod and a Golden Globe award as a savvy stripper in Closer. Never willing to be typecast, Portman proved she was not afraid to take risks when she shaved her head on-screen in the 2006 allegorical thriller V for Vendetta. In 2008, she made her directorial debut with the short film Eve, which premiered at the 65th Venice Film Festival. Although she is undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s biggest names, she enjoys a low-profile private life (her reported relationships with Lukas Haas and Gael Garcia Bernal played out away from the tabloids). A vegetarian since childhood, Portman is a staunch advocate for environmental preservation and animal rights.