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Natalie Portman is a 'Smoker'

Posted Monday, June 21, 2004 at 11:30 AM Central

by John Couture

Now that her commitment to the Star Wars prequels is almost over, starlet Natalie Portman seems intent on reclaiming her crown as heir apparent for Hollywood's leading lady. With the critically-acclaimed independent feature Garden State on its way to theaters next month, Queen Amidala is quickly receding in our silver screen rearview mirror.

Staying with the independent feel, Nat has signed on to play the lead in The Smoker. Directed by Richard Linklater, the muse behind indie hits Slacker and Dazed And Confused before finding mainstream success in last year's School of Rock, The Smoker follows the story of a private high school student who brings her teacher home for dinner only to have her parents ask him to marry his daughter. In an interesting casting decision, off-beat comic actor Owen Wilson has been cast as the teacher.

As for the evocative title, it seems that Nat has developed a penchant for nicotine that has stunned some of her fans. The young beauty has been caught by the paparazzi puffing on cigarettes on numerous occasions in the past month or so. Perhaps she was just researching this role.

Later this year, Natalie shares the screen with Hollywood hitters Jude Law and Julia Roberts in Closer.