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Portman copes with fascism, buzz cut in film

In ‘V for Vendetta’ her character undergoes a complete transformation
/ Source: The Associated Press

The things Natalie Portman had to deal with in her latest film, “V for Vendetta:” A new friend who’s a terrorist. A new world order of fascism. A new hairdo.

Opening Friday, “V for Vendetta” casts Portman as a Londoner living under the heel of a repressive government in the near future, when xenophobic reactionaries have seized control of Britain and turned it into a police state.

Her character, Evey, is drawn into the world of the title character V (Hugo Weaving), a masked crusader orchestrating massive bombings to rally popular support to bring down the regime.

Portman said that along with its explosive action, the film is meant to stir uneasy debate in a post-Sept. 11 world about who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter.

“There’s sort of World War II imagery, Holocaust imagery, also some language you hear from today’s modern Western democracy leaders as well as elements of sort of terrorist groups today,” Portman said in an interview Thursday at ShoWest, a theater-owners convention where she received an award as female star of the year.

“I think all these different elements together create interesting questions about when, if ever, we can justify violence.”

The 24-year-old Portman, who sported some of Hollywood’s most elaborate hairstyles as Padme Amidala in the three latest “Star Wars” flicks, got the Sinead O’Connor treatment in “V for Vendetta.” Imprisoned, Evey has her long locks shorn in a scene disturbingly reminiscent of images from the Holocaust.

Director James McTeigue — a protege of “V for Vendetta” screenwriters Andy and Larry Wachowski, creators of “The Matrix” movies — had only one chance to get Portman’s haircut scene right.

Evey’s tearful reactions were shot as Portman had her hair clipped to the skull.

“It was something I had always thought about doing,” Portman said. To throw away “conventions of beauty and male expectations to how we’re supposed to aesthetically please them or whatever is definitely a nice thing to do.”