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IMAGE: Natalie Portman
Paul Drinkwater  /  AP
For Natalie Portman, 2011 is already shaping up to be an unforgettable year.
updated 1/19/2011 5:50:46 PM ET 2011-01-19T22:50:46

For Natalie Portman, 2011 is already shaping up to be an unforgettable year.

The actress is getting big awards buzz for her turn as a ballerina gone mad in "Black Swan." She already won a Golden Globe, she's up for a Screen Actors Guild award and she's sure to hear her name when Oscar nominations are announced next week. Portman also has four other movies slated for release this year — including the first produced by her own company.

Oh, and she's pregnant with her first child and engaged to be married.

Slideshow: Natalie Portman (on this page)
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"I'm very, very excited," she says during an interview to promote her romantic comedy "No Strings Attached," which opens Friday. "I feel very, very lucky."

And maybe just a bit overwhelmed.

Ever poised in interviews, and always the picture of perfection at events, the Harvard grad and Oscar nominee (for 2004's "Closer") says having four movies in the pipeline at the same time she's starting a family is "a little insane."

Video: 'No Strings Attached': Jan. 21 (on this page)

Not that she's letting it get to her — or letting it show, except for maybe the family part. Though she has a spate of scheduled appearances coming up — awards shows, film festivals, premieres — she's not dashing around town juggling meetings and fittings. Instead, the star who recently relocated to Los Angeles from her hometown of New York says she's just relaxing with her mom and enjoying the West Coast weather.

"I think because so much is going on, it's just sort of going over my head," Portman says, her petite frame folded on a sofa, her hand intuitively resting on her bourgeoning belly. "I don't know that I'm taking it all in. I'm just like, 'Oh, the sun is shining. I'm with my mom. I'm with my dog. Life is good.'"

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Indeed, things are good for the 29-year-old. She's engaged to Benjamin Millepied, a ballet dancer and choreographer who worked on "Black Swan," and they are expecting their first child together. He was her date at the Globes, and when she was named best actress in a drama, she thanked him for "helping me to continue this creation of creating more life."

Story: Natalie Portman, nooooo!

Portman is also giving life to new movies through her production company, handsomecharlie films. The company's first feature, "Hesher," in which she stars with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, premiered at Sundance and is set for release this year. Handsomecharlie is also developing "Best Buds," a road-trip tale of a bride-to-be who staves off a nervous breakdown by hanging with her friends and smoking marijuana. Portman is set to star.

"We like all sorts of movies: drama, thriller, sci-fi, comedy," she says of her herself and producing partner Annette Savitch. "But I think something that definitely appeals to us, just because of the lack of it, is strong female comedies, and also female friendship movies — unlike 'Black Swan' where they're ripping each other's hair out — where girls are funny, supportive friends for each other."

Video: Ashton Kutcher has 'No Strings Attached' (on this page)

Portman dabbles in on-screen female friendship in "No Strings Attached." She plays Emma Kurtzman, a doctor for whom love is like a nasty rash: irritating, painful and best avoided. Meanwhile, her colleagues (played by Greta Gerwig and Mindy Kaling) want boyfriends and lament the lack of good guys out there. They support Emma as she enters a sex-only relationship with Adam (Ashton Kutcher), zinging one-liners and cracking wise throughout.

It's the rare romantic comedy where the woman, much less all the women, get laughs, Portman says.

"I had been looking for a funny female character for a long time," she says. "I feel like in romantic comedies often it's just the girl who gets to kind of wear cute clothes and wants to get married at the end, which is always fun to watch but it's not necessarily a challenge or exciting to do."

Director Ivan Reitman says Portman found the script on her own and asked for the part. He recalls being surprised at her interest, then met with her.

"I realized as I was talking to her: Oh, this is the girl," he says. "She is as smart as this character is, because she needs to be that intelligent, but more than that, she has the strength that this girl has, and she has the complexity to portray somebody that is a little bit messed up."

The role called for Portman to be saucy, sexy and even drunk in one scene. Her character is bold, confident and sexually self-assured — the complete opposite of her award-winning "Black Swan" character, who is repressed, girlish and afraid.

The back-to-back contrasting roles was "one of those sort of accidents," the actress says.

"I'd been with 'Black Swan' for 10 years before it got made, and I'd been with this movie for like three years before it got made, and it just happened to get financing in the same period," she says. "But it's always welcome to completely shed a character and do something very, very different."

She'll be seen in two more very different roles this year. She plays a warrior opposite Danny McBride and James Franco in the comedy-adventure "Your Highness," and a human friend of a Norse god in Marvel Studios' anticipated "Thor."

Portman might be promoting her movies through most of her pregnancy.

"The thing that's great is that I'm really proud of all the movies. I'm really excited about every single one," she says. "I don't think it's great that they're like all in this time period. I wish they were more spaced out, but I don't really have control over that. But at least people won't see my face for awhile afterwards."

For now, though, expect Portman aplenty in what's becoming Natalie's big year.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Natalie Portman

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  1. Straight arrow

    Portman plays a warrior princess in 2011's "Your Highness," starring alongside James Franco and Danny McBride. The film has been called "a medieval stoner comedy." (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Megawatt smile

    Portman arrives at the premiere of "No Strings Attached" in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. The film received mediocre reviews but did better than expected at the box office. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Mismatched couple?

    In 2011 comedy "No Strings Attached," Portman plays a doctor who tries to keep her relationship with Ashton Kutcher purely physical. The film topped the box office on its debut weekend, beating Seth Rogen's "The Green Hornet." (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. He does want to sleep with me

    While accepting her best actress Golden Globe for "Black Swan," Portman thanked Millepied, who plays a small role in the film as a dancer with no sexual interest in the neurotic Nina. "It's not true! He totally wants to sleep with me!" she said. Her nervous laugh after delivering the joke was repeated and drawn out into a viral video that quickly made the rounds on the Internet. (Handout / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Parents to be

    Portman and Millepied arrive at the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was born in France and raised in Senegal, beginning ballet training at age 8 with his mother, herself a ballet dancer. He reportedly left the ballerina with whom he was living when he and Portman fell in love on "Black Swan." (Jason Merritt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Beauty in black and white

    Natalie Portman won the best actress award at the Critics' Choice Awards on Jan. 14, 2011 in Los Angeles. She thanked "Black Swan" director Darren Aronofsky, joking "You made me very skinny and you ... made me fat," referring to the workouts she took on for the role and to her eventual pregnancy with and engagement to choreographer Benjamin Millepied. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Dark side

    In 2010's "Black Swan," Portman plays nervous and naive ballerina Nina, who can play "Swan Lake's" innocent white swan easily, but struggles to understand the role of the sensual black swan. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Bringing hope to the world

    Portman speaks at the 25th anniversary of the Foundation for International Community Assistance in November 2010. She is an ambassador of hope for the group, which promotes the use of micro-finance to provide financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs. Portman has visited FINCA programs in Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Uganda and often speaks on its behalf. (Joe Corrigan / Getty Images for FINCA) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. War story

    In 2009's "Brothers," Portman plays a mom and wife who's suddenly left a widow, or so she believes. But her husband, played by Tobey Maguire, makes an unexpected return, only to find that his brother (Jake Gyllenhaal) has fallen for Portman's character. (Lionsgate) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Giving out the gold

    Ben Stiller, dressed as Joaquin Phoenix, presented an award with Portman at the 2009 Academy Awards. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. The city that never sleeps

    In 2009, Portman starred in "New York, I Love You," a collective work of 11 short films about the city. It's the second in a series called the "Cities of Love" franchise. 2006's "Paris, je t'aime" was the first. (Vivendi Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Putting her best foot forward

    Portman was a vegetarian since childhood and became a vegan in 2009, reportedly after reading Jonathan Safran Foer's book, "Eating Animals." The year before that, she launched a line of vegan footwear, seen here. (Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Losing her head

    Portman played the famous Anne Boleyn and Scarlett Johansson her lesser-known sister Mary in 2008's "The Other Boleyn Girl," based on Philippa Gregory's novel. (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Bluer than blue

    In 2007, Portman starred with Norah Jones in "My Blueberry Nights," the first English feature film directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai. Portman plays a poker player who's lost all her money gambling. (The Weinstein Company) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Going ape

    In 2007, Portman teamed up with wildlife expert Jack Hanna to make "Gorillas on the Brink," a TV special about the plight of gorillas in Rwanda. (Animal Planet) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Double role

    Portman plays two characters in 2007's "Goya's Ghosts," set in Spain in the 1700s. She portrays both a young model and her lookalike, a prostitute. (Samuel Goldwyn Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. World of 'Wonder'

    Portman plays an employee in a magical toy store run by Dustin Hoffman in 2007's "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium." She told the press she was excited to make a movie for children. (Fox-Walden) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Rap it up

    In 2006, Portman spoofed herself in an SNL Digital Short on "Saturday Night Live." She turns her good-girl image on its ear by playing herself as an angry gangsta rapper, saying when she was at Harvard she did drugs constantly and cheated on every test.

    Hulu.com: Natalie Portman raps on "SNL." (Hulu) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Who needs hair?

    Portman wasn't afraid to shave her head for 2006's "V for Vendetta," an adaptation of the comic book series of the same name. Her character joins an underground anti-government group. Jerusalem-born Portman has been quoted as saying "being from Israel was a reason I wanted to do this because terrorism and violence are such a daily part of my conversations since I was little." (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Close to you

    Portman and Clive Owen starred in 2004's "Closer," often mentioned as one of the actress' best films. Both Owen and Portman were nominated for supporting-acting Oscars for their roles. Neither won, but they did win Golden Globes. (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Smile for the cameras

    Portman poses for pictures during the New York premiere of "Garden State" in 2004. (Stephen Lovekin / FilmMagic) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. 'Garden State'

    Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, left, and Zach Braff, right, starred in 2004's "Garden State." Portman's character was an epileptic and a pathological liar. Braff wrote and directed the film, which had only a limited release in theaters but gained more attention on DVD. (Fox Searchlight) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Giving birth at Wal-Mart

    Portman starred in the 2000 film "Where the Heart Is," based on the best-selling Billie Letts novel. She plays Novalee Nation, who is abandoned by her boyfriend at a Wal-Mart and decides to live there, even giving birth to her baby in the store. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Luke, I am your mother

    Portman gained real fame in 1999 when she played Queen Padme Amidala in the first of the three "Star Wars" prequels, "The Phantom Menace." Her marriage to Anakin Skywalker, who later becomes Darth Vader, produces twins Luke and Leia, but she dies giving birth to them. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. You are so 'Beautiful'

    In 1996's "Beautiful Girls," Portman plays a young girl who describes herself as "an old soul." Matt Dillon, Timothy Hutton and Rosie O'Donnell also star. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Working with Woody Allen

    Portman also had a role in the 1996 Woody Allen film "Everyone Says I Love You." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Getting her start

    Natalie Portman was just 13 when she made her feature film debut, as a child who befriends a middle-aged hitman (Jean Reno) in 1994's "Leon: The Professional." Born Natalie Hershlag, she took her grandmother's maiden name, Portman, for her stage name. (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Universal Pictures
    Above: Slideshow (27) Natalie Portman
  2. Lionsgate
    Slideshow (8) January movies

Video: 'No Strings Attached': Jan. 21

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