Bintel Blog

Natalie Portman Says She and Scarlett Johansson are the ‘Hot Knishes’

By Daniel Treiman

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Natalie Portman speaks at length with the Times of London about a variety of topics, including her dating patterns, why being an only child made her career possible and why Stephen Fry was her all-time favorite co-star.

She also touched on her Jewish identity. Asked whether her ethnic background has been a stabilizing influence, she replies:

Absolutely. I identify very strongly as Jewish, but I could be Indian, Puerto Rican … Anything that gives you a cultural identity makes you know who you are and grounds you, even as a young girl trying on identities.

Portman is, of course, starring with fellow Jewish starlet Scarlett Johansson (Jewish on her mom’s side, Danish on her dad’s) in the upcoming “The Other Boleyn Girl” — a project that is certain to stoke an unprecedented level of interest in the 16th-century British monarchy among young Jewish men. Her interviewer noted that when Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek co-starred in a movie they were dubbed the “hot tamales” (weirdly, since Penelope Cruz is Spanish, not Mexican), and asked Portman what the media would call her pairing with Johansson. Portman’s answer: “The Hot Knishes.”

Sheela Tue. Feb 26, 2008

Props to Daniel Treiman for pointing out society's ignorance when it comes to lumping all Latina actresses together-- yes, there IS a difference between "Spanish" and "Mexican"! Now if someone could just please smack the commenter above upside the head when it comes to stereotyping Jewish women... or perhaps he's just jealous....

David L Nilsson Tue. Feb 26, 2008

LOL. Who better to play two spoilt girls after a rich powerful hubby than two Jewish princesses? A king, already- even Momma will be satisfied!

Ruth Mon. Feb 25, 2008

I think it's a good thing, especially for today's Jewish women-- burdened as they are with crises of self-image and self-esteem -- that Hollywood boasts two attractive, accomplished Jewish actresses, neither of whom looks stereotypically "Jewish" (and I do consider ScarJo Jewish; halachicly-speaking, she is 100% so).Their mere presence throws a sharp right hook at preconceived notions of what Jewishness looks or sounds like. However, it might be even more refreshing to fully embrace actresses with more unconventional types of beauty. And though I applaud Natalie Portman for asserting her Jewishness, it is a little odd that she feels the need to qualify her declaration by saying she could be any other ethnicity. It's also interesting to note that Portman changed her last name from the distinctly more Jewish-sounding Hershlag. Still, we've come a long way from Issur Danielovitch becoming Kirk Douglas. Hollywood can be a fascinating study in Jewish self-invention.

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