Natalie Portman was great in the two most recent Star Wars movies. What's her background?
—Jody M., Tennessee
The 21-year-old actress, born in Jerusalem, Israel, and raised in Syosset, N.Y., was discovered at age 11 in a pizza parlor by a Revlon modeling agent. Her father is a doctor, specializing in infertility, and her mother is an artist and homemaker, who now acts as her agent. Portman didn't find modeling very interesting and turned toward acting. She made her film debut in 1994 in The Professional and soon went on to roles in Heat with Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro and Beautiful Girls, where she garnered rave reviews for her performance as a wise-beyond-her-years young girl. Portman debuted on Broadway in the title role of The Diary of Anne Frank in the late 1990s. She had never seen the three previous Star Wars movies when she took the role as Queen Amidala in Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace. While her acting career has been incredibly successful, Portman attends Harvard as a psychology major and has said that she eventually wants to become a doctor, like her father.