Natalie Portman made her acting debut at 12 with The Professional in 1994 and Beautiful Girls in 1996. Both films featured Portman’s characters having controversial and complicated romantic feelings towards an older man, which made her keenly aware at the time that she was starting to be portrayed as a “Lolita” figure. While appearing on Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Portman opened up about how she didn’t feel safe during her years as a teen actress and made conscious decisions to avoid being preyed upon by older men. Via People:
“Being sexualized as a child, I think took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid and it made me like the way I could be safe was to be like, ‘I’m conservative,’ and ‘I’m serious and you should respect me,’ and ‘I’m smart,’ and ‘don’t look at me that way.'”
As part of more “conservative” approach to her career, Portman steered clear of the usual teenage fare. “When I was in my teens I was like, ‘I don’t wanna have any love scenes or make-out scenes,'” she told Shepard. “I would start choosing parts that were less sexy because it made me worried about the way I was perceived and how safe I felt.” However, Portman stands by her choices because her defense mechanism ultimately “worked out” and kept her safe.
Portman’s heightened awareness clearly worked with Moby, who made claims in his 2019 memoir that he had a romantic encounter with Portman leading the actress to put the musician on blast for his “creepy” behavior. “I was surprised to hear that he characterized the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school,” Portman told Harper’s Bazaar. “He was on tour and I was working, shooting a film, so we only hung out a handful of times before I realized that this was an older man who was interested in me in a way that felt inappropriate.”