Natalie Portman isn’t so sure that Léon: The Professional could get made today due to its “cringey” and “complicated” elements.
Léon: The Professional has a pretty strong cult following and meme-worthy presence thanks to Gary Oldman, but Natalie Portman isn’t so sure it has aged all that well in the nearly three decades since its release.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Natalie Portman said of Léon, “It’s a movie that’s still beloved, and people come up to me about it more than almost anything I’ve ever made, and it gave me my career, but it is definitely, when you watch it now, it definitely has some cringey, to say the least, aspects to it. So, yes, it’s complicated for me.” Portman previously told Empire, “There’s a lot of stuff in there that’s not amazing through today’s eyes…Even though I totally understand – I don’t know how I’d show that to my kids.”
There are a number of reasons for Natalie Portman feeling this way about Léon, in which she plays Mathilda, a pre-teen who falls under the care of a hitman named Léon, played by Jean Reno, after her family is killed. There’s that brief synopsis, but also scenes with Mathilda surrounded by and handling firearms, in addition to probably what Portman is really referring to: the relationship between Mathilda and Léon, which, while not explicitly romantic (although she expresses “love”, however misguided), may prompt the viewer to really consider their bond and what’s being said underneath the surface, especially when viewed in 2023. That director Luc Besson started dating his second wife, Maïwenn, when she was just 15 might also be cited by those who protest the movie. Maïwenn would later say that Léon: The Professional was partly based on their relationship…
Léon was intended to have a sequel that would follow Natalie Portman’s character as an older “cleaner.” The idea was reworked and made as Colombiana with Zoe Saldaña. Although co-written by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (who also collaborated on The Fifth Element, The Transporter and more), it was directed by Olivier Megaton.
Are you a fan of Natalie Portman in Léon: The Professional? Do you think it could get made now? Give us your take in the comments section below!