PARIS — Flexing her muscles as a budding producer, actress Natalie Portman just finished the pilot for “Scruples,” a TV show based on the 1978 Judith Krantz book.
“It’s about a store opening in Beverly Hills modeled after the Dior salons,” said Portman. “Which is really fun, full circle.”
Indeed: Portman last week spent a whirlwind few days in Paris in her role as pitchwoman for such beauty products as Diorskin Nude foundation and Rouge Dior Nude lipstick.
After addressing more than 150 journalists to present a charitable tie-in and advertising photographed by Mario Sorrenti, Portman was later the guest of honor at a dinner at Dior’s couture salons.
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At the end of the two-day stint, Portman — sitting in a suite at Paris’ Hôtel Plaza Athénée — discussed wide-ranging topics from movies to beauty. Not surprisingly, the Oscar-winning actress has numerous projects afoot.
She is to begin filming two Terrence Malick movies this summer — “Knight of Cups” and “Lawless” — and is relishing her producing projects.
“It’s really, really interesting to get a look at the other side of the process,” said Portman. “Scary sometimes — because you hear about how people talk about actors and about hiring directors and writers and all of that.”
She’s certainly after producing good material, “but we definitely tend toward female writers and characters,” Portman noted, referring to her partner, Annette Savitch, in the production company Handsomecharlie Films.
Other upcoming film projects count among them a documentary of Jonathan Safran Foer’s food manifesto “Eating Animals,” which is about to start production and will be directed by Christopher Quinn. (Portman is a vegetarian but generally a vegan.)
Her nonfilm-related projects include working as an ambassador for Free the Children, set up to help liberate children from poverty and exploitation. As reported, proceeds from the sale of Rouge Dior’s Nude Grège lipstick — Portman’s pick — will go to the charity.
“I really have so much respect for both the legacy of [Dior] and also their tradition of very quietly being extremely generous,” she said. “There’s so much opportunity to do well by doing good.”
Portman — who signed on as a face of Dior in 2010 — said she’s fascinated by generational differences in the use of beauty products.
“My grandmother will not leave the house without perfect hair and perfect makeup and her splash of perfume. And my mom is really so much more functional and just really, really natural in her style,” she said. “So it was very fascinating to me how your era defines your process.”
To be sure, beauty has played a major role in Portman’s professional life.
“It really helps you get into a character to look different than you normally do, and makeup and hair can play such a big role in that,” she said. “You know, like in ‘Black Swan,’ to look in the makeup mirror and see that I looked evil, with these crazy contacts in, the crazy makeup, definitely transports you to a different place.
“And in personal life, like all women, I want to feel natural, not like I have a mask on, but also like a heightened version of my natural self,” continued Portman. “So to have a splash of lipstick for night, or some DiorShow mascara makes my eyes look more open. It’s a fun way to feel more glamorous.”
Fashionwise, “I’ve been trying to look more like a lady recently,” she noted. “I used to be happy in a T-shirt and sweatpants, and now I feel like I want to make myself a little more grown up — now that I’m a mom.”
Portman has been wearing some vintage Dior as of late.
“I feel like you are sort of stepping into history,” she said of the appeal of other eras’ looks. “It’s really amazing to get the story of where a dress has been; you know that it has lived through many people’s stories.”
Also since motherhood, Portman has somewhat changed her beauty regimen.
“I think I’m much more aware of using clean products, you know, paraben-free and all of that, to make sure that everything I have around my child is OK to be eaten, basically, because that happens,” she laughed.