Why Natalie Portman Says 'Star Wars' Actually Hurt Her Career

"Everyone thought I was a horrible actress," she said.

— -- When "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" came out in 1999, it became one of the highest grossing movies of all-time, but fans of the "Star Wars" franchise were torn about the series of new prequels.

Oscar winner Natalie Portman, who starred in all three of the prequels, said playing the female protagonist Padmé in the franchise actually hurt her career.

In an interview with New York magazine, where A-list stars paid tribute to the iconic director Mike Nichols, Portman shared a tale of how the late legend helped get her career back off the ground after "Star Wars."

Portman, 33, starred in Nichols' "Seagull" as part of the NY Shakespeare Festival summer season in 2001. Nichols helped get her into other movies like "Cold Mountain" in 2003.

"'Star Wars' had come out around the time of 'Seagull,' and everyone thought I was a horrible actress," she said. "I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me. Mike wrote a letter to Anthony Minghella and said, 'Put her in "Cold Mountain," I vouch for her.'"

She continued, "And then Anthony passed me on to Tom Tykwer, who passed me on to the Wachowskis. I worked with Milos Forman a few years later. He said, 'Mike saved me. He wrote a letter so that I could get asylum in the U.S.' He did that for 50 people, and it doesn't make any one of us feel less special."

Portman would end up winning the Oscar for her work in "Black Swan" in 2011.