Moving is tough — even for Natalie Portman. The Oscar-winning actress opened up to Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday, August 25, about adjusting to life in France after moving in 2014 with her husband Benjamin Millepied.
Portman, 35, and Bordeaux native Millepied, 30, met and fell in love while filming Black Swan. The couple got married in 2012, and initially resided in L.A. with their son Aleph.
Two years after their wedding, they made the big move to France when Millepied was hired as the director of dance at the famed Paris Opera Ballet. This past summer, the family moved back to the West Coast, where Millepied returns to the dance company that he started in 2012.
Consider Portman well-versed in French conduct after living there for two years. “I didn’t realize that I got used to it until I got [back to L.A.] — and I was so surprised,” Portman shared. “You’d get in an elevator and someone start a conversation, ‘You’re so nice!’ And someone would smile at my child and it was like, ‘What a good person.’ People are really lovely here.”
She then explained that the culture in France is slightly more complex than the U.S. “There’s a lot of rules of politeness and codes of behavior there that you have to follow. I feel like it’s a lot looser here,” she mused. “We care about making the person next to you comfortable.”
One example? “A friend of mine taught me that when you go in some place you have to say ‘bonjour’ before you say anything else,” she recalled. “And then you have to wait two seconds before you say something else. So, if you go into a store, you can’t be like, ‘Do you have this in another size?’ Or they’ll think you’re super rude and then they’ll be rude to you. But if you’re like, ‘Hi! Do you have this in another size?’ It’s like, ‘Sure, I’ll help you!’”
This isn’t the first time Portman has discussed the people of France. She recently told the L.A. Times: “Women’s sexuality is much more open [in France]. And also, love of food. They think it’s crazy not to eat bread or cheese. Desiring beauty, desiring men — or women — desiring pleasure. I think that’s very related to why there’s so many female directors there and not here. Desire is … sort of the center of creation.”
Portman is currently promoting her new film, A Tale of Love and Darkness, which she directed and wrote. Watch her chat with Kimmel above!