Natalie Portman thinks the late Mike Nichols was her only older male mentor who wasn't "creepy".

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman

The 39-year-old actress was just 19 when she worked with the director - who died in 2014 aged 83 - for the first time in a production of 'The Seagull' and went on to make 'Closer' with him in 2004, and she hailed the filmmaker as a "genuine feminist" whose outlook set him apart from other helmsmen of his generation.

In author Mark Harris' new book, 'Mike Nicolas: A Life', Natalie said Mike was "the only older man who mentored me without there ever being a creepy element in it."

She added: "I think he was a genuine feminist. There was nothing, nothing, nothing there except him seeing you as a creative, interesting, talented human. It is the rarest, finest quality, and not many directors of his generation had it."

The author recalled how "protective" Mike was over Natalie when it came to shooting a scene in a strip club for 'Closer'.

He wrote: "With Portman, Nichols was careful and protective, particularly in the strip club sequence, for which, at her request, he was happy to eliminate some of the nudity. 'He wants to see my bare ass [even] less than my father would,' said Portman at the time.

"[Nichols] made sure [Portman] was comfortable with the angles, the costumes, and the movement, and walked her through the scene until she felt ready. 'What he did for me…' she says. 'Lord, may I have that ability to offer that kind of mentorship and guidance to one other person.' "

The 'Black Swan' actress has previously admitted that starring in movies such as 'The Professional' and 'Beautiful Girls' as a young teenager led to her being more careful about expressing herself "sexually" because of people's reactions.

She said: "I understood very quickly, even as a 13 year old, that if I were to express myself sexually I would feel unsafe and that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body to my great discomfort.

"I felt the need to cover my body and to inhibit my expression and my work in order to send my own message to the world that I’m someone worth of safety and respect."

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