The 1994 film, titled Léon: The Professional, followed Natalie Portman as Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl who is taken in by a professional assassin after her family is murdered.
It was a turning point for the young actress. After Léon: The Professional, Portman didn't have to go to auditions anymore. Instead, countless producers approached her with potential roles and scripts.
Watch: At 13 years old, Natalie Portman opened her first piece of fan mail. Post continues below.
But as the teenager landed roles in the likes of Beautiful Girls, which followed a middle-aged man who has a crush on her young character, she garnered a new type of attention.
From the age of 12 years old, Natalie Portman was "sexualised" in the public eye.
Speaking on Armchair Expert With Dax Shepard, the now 39-year-old shared that the public reaction to her earliest film roles was difficult to handle as a teenager.
"I was definitely aware of the fact that like, I was being portrayed — like mainly in the kind of journalism around when the movies would come out — as this Lolita figure and stuff," she shared.
"Being sexualised as a child, I think, took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid," she continued.
"It made me feel like the way I could be safe was to be like, 'I’m conservative, and I’m, you know, serious, and you should respect me, and I’m smart and like, don’t look at me that way.'"
The actress shared that the public reaction led her to start choosing parts that were "less sexy".
Most notably, she turned down the role of Lolita in the 1997 film adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's infamous book about a middle-aged man who falls in love with a 12-year-old girl.