According to a report in Variety, Natalie Portman may soon step into the role of an astronaut for Fox Searchlight’s upcoming film, Pale Blue Dot. The film will be directed by Noah Hawley, the creator of the critically-acclaimed television series Fargo. Reese Witherspoon was originally attached to the role but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with her HBO series Big Little Lies.

“Pale Blue Dot follows a successful female astronaut who, after coming back home from a mission in space, starts to unravel when confronted by her seemingly perfect American dream life,” writes Variety. “The film explores the theory that astronauts who spend long periods of time in space begin to lose their sense of reality when they return home.”

Natalie Portman may be more qualified for the role than you think.

When Natalie Portman was a High School student in Syosset, Long Island, she was victorious in one of the world’s most prestigious science competitions: The Intel Science Talent Search. Winners and runner-ups of the 70-year old competition have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, the Fields Medals (The “Nobel” of mathematics but only given every four years), MacArthur genius grants, and because of Portman, the Oscar for Best Actress in a motion picture.

You can read a piece that expands on Natalie Portman’s extraordinary scientific background in the New York Times. “She’d been in films directed by Woody Allen, Tim Burton and Luc Besson, appeared opposite Julia Roberts, Jack Nicholson, Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, Drew Barrymore and I’m getting tired of typing celebrity names here,” said reporter Natalie Angier in a 2011 Times article. “She took on the major role of Queen Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy that rocketed her to international fame. And then she went on to Harvard University to study neuroscience and the evolution of the mind.”

Natalie Portman fans will remember a scene in David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network where during a legal hearing, there’s mention of a movie star studying at Harvard while the Facebook drama unfolded. They were referring to Natalie Portman.

Before winning the Academy Award for her portrayal of a tortured ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller Black Swan, the actress tackled serious roles before she was old enough to drive. Did I mention she’s the mother of General Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker? Just checking.

The actress got her start with the classic film Leon or The Professional as it was titled in the United States after being discovered in a pizza parlor in New York City. Portman played a teen grappling with a violent and drug-fueled adult world who then befriends a gentle assassin. Also as a young actress, she had a small role in Michael Mann’s crime masterpiece Heat that saw cinema greats Al Pacino and Robert De Niro go head-to-head in the prime of their careers. Most recently, Natalie Portman starred as Jackie Kennedy in the critically acclaimed film Jackie that follows the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination.

“There are very few who are as inherently bright as Natalie is, who have as much intellectual horsepower, who work as hard as she did. She didn’t take a single thing for granted,” said Abigail A. Baird who was one of Portman’s instructors at Harvard. She didn’t take a single thing for granted.” Portman received a degree in Psychology from the prestigious university.

So yeah, we’re excited to see her portray an Astronaut. Before that, you can see Portman portray a military scientist in the film adaptation of science-fiction novel Annihilation being helmed by Ex Machina director Alex Garland.

Also, Natalie Portman can rap (?) :


Image Credits: Lucas Film


Robin Seemangal is a Space Reporter, with a focus on NASA and advocacy for space exploration for the New York Observer. He’s also written for Popular Science and Wired Magazine. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, where he currently resides. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.