Natalie Portman and Jonathan Safran Foer Acknowledge That They Are Pretentious

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Back in 2016, Natalie Portman and Jonathan Safran Foer engaged in an instantly iconic email correspondence for T Magazine, in which they waxed poetic about freedom and memory and the nature of Jewish melancholy with the bibliophilic zeal of two horny Ph.D. students. The exchange was particularly fun to read given rumors that Safran Foer had once had a whopping crush on Portman, a crush that inspired him to leave his wife — only to be totally rebuffed by Portman.

I am clearly not the only person who thinks about Natalie and Jonathan’s emails a lot, and in a recent L.A. Times interview about their new documentary Eating Animals, writer Amy Kaufman gets them to reflect back on their correspondence — and to acknowledge that yes, they are pretentious, and no, they don’t care that you think that.

In 2016, the two of you participated in a story for The New York Times where you interviewed each other via e-mail. The internet had a field day making fun of the exchange. Does it bother you to be labeled pretentious?


Portman: I am pretentious! So it’s good to be reminded. Sometimes, I get too serious or whatever. I don’t really mind. It was mainly funny.

Foer: We’re talking about seriousness and pretentiousness and whatever – you’re lucky if you get to be serious about your life. It’s a gift, and not many people have that gift. I think about it all the time – how grateful I am that I get to do what I care about and get to be serious about what I care about.

I was going to end this with a punchy kicker, but Safran Foer has inspired me to be serious about what I care about in life, so I’ll simply echo the request I made back in 2016. Nat and Jon: If there are any further emails you would like to share, the Cut is all ears.

Natalie Portman and JSF Know Their Emails Are Pretentious