Natalie Portman wouldn’t encourage young people to become child actors.

The ‘Black Swan’ star, 42, launched her career at age 12 when she starred in the action film ‘Léon: The Professional’ in 1994, and she admits it’s only down to “luck” and having “overprotective parents” that she wasn’t “harmed”.

She told Variety: “I would not encourage young people to go into this.

“I don’t mean ever; I mean as children.”

She continued: “I feel it was almost an accident of luck that I was not harmed, also combined with very overprotective, wonderful parents.”

The ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ star is hopeful that the industry is looking after young performers better these days.

She said: “I’ve heard too many bad stories to think that any children should be part of it.

“Having said that, I know all the conversations that we’ve been having these past few years. It’s made people more aware and careful.”

However, she added: “But ultimately, I don’t believe that kids should work.

“I think kids should play and go to school.”

Natalie – who has son Aleph, 12, and daughter Amalia, six, with husband Benjamin Millepied – didn’t come away from being a child actor completely unscathed.

Her classmates used to tease her for her career path because they believed she thought she was “special”.

Natalie was speaking to Drew Barrymore for the fellow actress’ eponymously titled talk show, in 2020, when Drew – who was also a child actor and starred with Natalie in the 1996 movie ‘Everyone Says I Love You’ – said: “I read this thing about how you didn’t have an easy time in school because you would go out to movies and then come back and just have an awkward time with the other kids at school … I haven’t really read that from a lot of people and that was totally my experience, I really related to that.”

And Natalie confessed: “I mean I think people get bullied for all sorts of reasons and that’s a lucky reason to be bullied for because you are doing something that you love, I mean if you are doing something that you love.

“I do think that that sort of creates your empathy like being on that side of the teasing certainly makes you never want to make anyone feel like that ever again.”

The ‘Star Wars’ actress also admitted she found the experience tough, because she felt like she wasn’t able to be “proud” of her accomplishments.

Drew said: “The irony is that they would always say to me, ‘You think you’re so special.’ And I really read that in what you said in the copy and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh that’s exactly what they would say to me’ and I was like, ‘I not only don’t think I’m special but you are absolutely confirming I am not.”

Natalie added: “I know it’s so sad and also it’s like you know young people should be able to be proud of their accomplishments and I was like, ‘Oh God, I should just keep my head down all the time.’ Which isn’t a good way to go through life.”