The Film: Ms Portman was lucky to bag this, the first feature film of her career. Initially turned down by the flick’s casting director for being too young (she was 11), she returned to act out the scene in which Mathilda mourns the death of her brother.
Impressed, director Luc Besson gave her the part.
The Role: Twelve-year-old chain-smoker Mathilda has the kind of smarts that most pre-teens could only dream of. Calmly pacing past her apartment, where her family have all just been murdered, she is inadvertently saved by Jean Reno’s “cleaner” Léon.