Natalie Portman's Tireless Work On Behalf Of...NothingnessS

Who is the world's best celebrity? The New York Times Magazine came out this week and seemed like it was going to decree it to be Natalie Portman. While Angie, Brad, Bono, Clooney, Don Cheadle, Mia Farrow, Matt Damon, John Legend etc. etc. mostly dedicate themselves to Darfurian genocide and such, Natalie Portman's big issue is microfinance, which is, as causes go, apparently not as sexy. (Well, it's sexy if you're on the Nobel Committee, but you know.) Anyway, so, the genesis of Portman's decision to try and heal the world began in 2003, her senior year at Harvard, because "something very bad" happened to a friend of hers in Israel — where she was born. She won't say what happened, but she decided to call up Queen Rania of Jordan — an ethnic Palestinian! — and Rania suggested she get involved in microcredit, since it is pretty much the least controversial sort of philanthropy an Israeli and/or Arab are able to get involved in together.

Or maybe because she is not that intellectually curious and therefore lacks opinions that might lead her into something more meaningful!

Portman seemed to know enough about her subject — but no more than enough. I asked if she had the time to read books on economic development. Portman giggled and said, "I have time; I just don't want to."

That's not hard to fathom; Portman is a 26-year-old movie star. Still, she thinks of her discovery of poverty, and of this particular solution to it, as a pivot point in her life. She has stopped doing commercials. "I want to be comfortable and proud of everything I do," Portman says. She has designed a line of vegan shoes. She doesn't want to be controversial, but she does want to be taken seriously.

Hey, nice to know Natalie Portman will not be getting at least one thing that she wants!

The Celebrity Solution [NYT Magazine]