SCREEN GEM: Beautiful Girls (1996)

By EW Staff
Updated February 18, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST
Beautiful Girls: Miramax/ Courtesy Everett Collection

Great role: Natalie Portman in ”Beautiful Girls”

PREMISE Returning to his icy New England hometown for a high school reunion, lounge pianist Willie (Timothy Hutton, right) warms to Marty (Portman, left), the girl next door who may be the film’s most well-adjusted character; alas, at 13, she’s way too young for him.

FUN FACT Despite her nymphet roles in this film and her debut (1994’s The Professional), Portman turned down many more sexually precocious roles at the time, including parts in The Ice Storm, Romeo + Juliet, and Lolita. ”I think I would have been pretty upset to be in a sex scene at 14, before I’d even experienced it in real life,” she said in a 2002 interview. ”Can you imagine if I was walking down the street and I had to wonder if someone had seen me naked or having sex? That’s not something I should have to deal with when I was growing up and I’m very lucky that I didn’t.”

WHY IT’S GREAT At 13, the eerily mature Portman takes what could have been a creepy subplot and turns it into something wistful, luminous, and pure.