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Natalie Portman says Mike Nichols saved her career after 'Star Wars' prequels

"'Star Wars' had come out around the time of 'Seagull,' and everyone thought I was a horrible actress," Portman recounted.

By Veronica Linares
Natalie Portman says Mike Nichols saved her career after 'Star Wars' prequels
Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala on "Star Wars: Episode I "The Phantom Menace." jr/Keith Hamshere/Lucasfilm UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Natalie Portman has starred in multiple critically acclaimed films and won an Oscar for her role as a disturbed ballerina in the 2010 thriller Black Swan, but according to the actress, her career could've turned out very differently had it not been for late director Mike Nichols.

Portman, 33, opened up about the time when "no director wanted to work with [her]" and Nichols vouched for her in New York Magazine's recent collection of memories about the beloved director.

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"Star Wars had come out around the time of Seagull [a play she did with Nichols], and everyone thought I was a horrible actress," Portman recounted. "I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me."

Mike wrote a letter to Anthony Minghella and said, "Put her in Cold Mountain, I vouch for her." And then Anthony passed me on to Tom Tykwer, who passed me on to the Wachowskis. I worked with Milos Forman a few years later.

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Cold Mountain became Portman's first well-regarded film and praises for her acting followed when she starred in Zach Braff's Garden State, Nichol's Closer and Larry, Andy and Lana Wachowski's V for Vendetta.

The actress, however, isn't the only one who's been helped by Nichols. Portman wrote that Czech director Forman once told her Nichols "saved" him as well.

"He wrote a letter so that I could get asylum in the U.S.," Forman told Portman.

"He did that for 50 people, and it doesn't make any one of us feel less special," she added.

Nichols, who is best known for his work on films like The Graduate and The Birdcage, died of cardiac arrest in November. He was 83. New York Magazine's piece in his honor also includes memories and stories from Robert Redford, Julia Roberts and Eric Idle.

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