I was a very serious kid." On school holidays, Portman attended theater camps.
When she was 10, Portman auditioned for the 1992 off-Broadway show Ruthless!
They corresponded after her father returned to Israel and were married when her mother visited a few years later.
In 1984, when Portman was three years old, the family moved to the United States, where her father received his medical training.
She studied ballet and modern dance at the American Theater Dance Workshop in New Hyde Park, New York, and attended the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts in Wheatley Heights, both on Long Island.
In July 2001, Portman opened in New York City's Public Theater production of Chekhov's The Seagull, directed by Mike Nichols; she played the role of Nina alongside Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Garden State was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and won Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards.