Portman looks like a babe in the woods in this casting reel that features the actress reading a few lines of Mathilda's dialogue. It's a far cry from the determined girl who sets out to avenge her family's violent deaths, but auditions are rough, cold reads of a character, and Portman's super-serious intensity still manages to shine through.
You won't hear a single dorky giggle in this video where a young Portman reads through the scene, which takes place moments after Stansfield and his crew turn her family into Swiss cheese and right before Léon rescues the girl by allowing her inside his apartment.
In the film, Mathilda isn't shy about expressing her disgust for her stepmother and calls her a pig. Léon tells her that pigs don't deserve that kind of comparison because they're much nicer than people. He dons a pig-shaped oven mitt, doing his best to cheer her up, which leads to Mathilda's "cute" crush on the hitman. It's one of those touching and unexpected scenes you never thought you'd find in a movie about lunatics and gunmen.
The casting reel reverses some of the dialogue, and Portman's reading is a bit stiff, but it's clear that there was something special about this young actress right from the get-go. Bonus points for the adorable New York accent.
In another clip, Portman's goofy giggles reign supreme for a 1994 interview with 'Entertainment Tonight.' She appears alongside Jean Reno and Danny Aiello, who stars in 'Léon' as mafia boss Tony. Aiello calls her a young Natalie Wood and reminds the actress of the advice he once gave her: "Don't do television. You're a movie star." Good thing she listened. Natalie also talks about her love of performance, swoons over Brad Pitt, and fills us in on how her parents feel about some of 'Léon''s "adult" scenes and the importance of school. Check out both clips below.