Orthodox Jews chase Portman from film set. The Israeli-born Oscar nominee and a costar had been filming a kissing scene near Judaism's holiest shrine, Jerusalem's Wailing Wall

By Gary Susman
February 24, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Closer Oscar nominee Natalie Portman apparently got a little too close to a male costar while the pair were too close to Judaism’s holiest shrine. According to Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, on Tuesday, angry ultra-Orthodox Jews chased Portman and costar Aki Avni from the Jerusalem set of their film Free Zone because they were being filmed kissing in a parking lot near the Wailing Wall, the 2,000-year-old remnant of the Biblical Second Temple. It’s a site maintained by strictly observant Jews, where a partition keeps male and female worshipers separate, in keeping with Jewish law that forbids casual contact between men and women who aren’t related. Police had to intervene, separating the film crew from the chanting protesters.

According to the paper, the director, veteran Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai, hadn’t asked permission to film at the site, but he negotiated an agreement with police and the Orthodox group to return later and resume filming. It wasn’t clear if the couple were allowed to kiss in the re-shot scene.

The Israeli-born Portman has been living in her homeland for the past few months and taking courses at Hebrew University. In the movie, she plays one of three women involved in selling cars between Israel and Jordan.