STAR WARS Prequels Nearly Ended Natalie Portman's Career
Previous to Star Wars: Episode I, Natalie Portman only had a handful of screen credits, the most notable being in Léon: The Professional as Mathilda. But the terrible dialog and direction by George Lucas tainted the young actress' career. Her most visible work was also her most awful. From 1999 until 2003 Portman was in two middling films and had a single cameo. No director wanted to work with her.
It wasn't until Mike Nichols took action to help her land a role in Cold Mountain that things began to turn around for her. Portman, in her own words, on how it happened:
Star Wars had come out around the time of [The Seagull], and everyone thought I was a horrible actress. 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.
Cold Mountain, V for Vendetta, and Garden State put her back on track to survive the mess that is the Star Wars prequel trilogy. This is in direct contrast to Hayden Christensen who, despite earlier roles, seems to be a terrible actor.
Source: New York Magazine