Natalie Portman Defends ‘Star Wars’ Prequels and ‘The Professional’ After Being ‘Slaughtered Critically’

Oscar-winner Natalie Portman has no time for bad reviews because she knows the pendulum will usually swing the other way.

After Portman’s 1994 feature debut in “Léon: The Professional” was critically panned upon release, as well as her turn as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy and later “Thor: The Dark World,” the actress now points out that these are among her most beloved films. And her work on films like the “Star Wars” prequels prepared her when “Dark World” became widely reviled as one of the MCU’s worst movies.

“I mean, I had it with ‘The Professional’ too,” Portman explained to Variety. “It was slaughtered critically, and now, despite having been in Marvel and ‘Star Wars’ movies, it’s the main thing people come up to me about. That and ‘Star Wars’ are two examples of things that when they came out, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is a disaster.’ And then 20 years later — actually, 30 years later for ‘The Professional’ — it’s beloved.”

Portman’s “Star Wars” co-star Ewan McGregor called the boomerang fandom “tricky at the time” since the prequels “weren’t overwhelmingly embraced” upon release.

“It was nice to watch them now knowing that people love them,” McGregor said earlier this year. “That the kids who we made them for at the time — they loved those films a lot. It was nice to watch them with that sense.”

Now, Portman revisits another character from a flop film: She makes her return to the MCU nine years after “Thor: The Dark World” in the upcoming “Thor: Love and Thunder,” in theaters July 8. Writer/director Taika Waititi especially sought out Portman to return in a different capacity other than just Thor’s love interest Jane Foster.

“I’ve seen her play the scientist character in ‘Thor’ 1 and 2, and it just seemed pointless to do it again,” Waititi said to Variety. “That character feels like just a love interest. It’s an Earthwoman who runs around being mortal and not really consequential throughout.”

Instead, the “Love and Thunder” version of Portman’s Jane will include a 2014 comic book story where Jane transforms into Mighty Thor, a superhero in her own rite. Portman underwent a physical transformation to become “as big as possible” for the role, calling it an “amazing challenge.”

Director Waititi previously said that the film is the “craziest thing I’ve ever done,” adding, “I definitely feel like we put everything – every idea and every single ridiculous concept or gag or stunt or character – into this film. I couldn’t be happier with it.”

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