Who is Natalie Portman’s ex-husband? All about Benjamin Millepied

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Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied have officially split after 11 years of marriage.

The couple finalized their divorce in February 2024, a rep confirmed to NBC.

Portman and Millepied met in 2011 when he was choreographing the film that would win her an Oscar, “Black Swan.”

“He was teaching me to dance,” Portman told SiriusXM in 2018 about their time making “Black Swan.”

“One of those romantic (stories). It was definitely exciting and fun. It was beautiful. I don’t know about ‘instant,'" she continued. "It was like, I really got to know him and that was when it seemed like, ‘Oh, this is the person.’”

Before he and Portman met, Millepied was an established star in the world of ballet and choreography — but since they connected, his world has expanded tenfold. Now he’s dad to their two children, runs his own dance company, and has even directed his first feature film. What else can we learn about the Frenchman?

Here’s everything we know so far about Benjamin Millepied.

Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied (Doug Peters / Getty Images)
Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied (Doug Peters / Getty Images)

Benjamin Millepied was born into a dancing family

Born in Bordeaux, France, on June 10, 1977, Millepied’s family (which included his two older brothers) lived for a time in Senegal, where his father trained Olympic track-and-field athletes, according to a 2010 article in Details magazine.

Back in France, he began dancing at age 8 with his mother Catherine, who ran a dance school and was a former modern dancer, as his bio on his (now archived) web page once explained. As Details noted, he “elbowed his way into dance recitals and followed the Paris Opera … the way a Little Leaguer follows Major League Baseball.”

“In France, ballet is on TV,” he told Details. “It’s on the 8:00 news. It’s a cool thing to be a dancer.”

He made a grand jeté to New York as a teenager

As his bio noted, Millepied attended the Conservatoire National de Lyon and studied classical ballet from age 13 to 16, and in 1992 he first danced in New York City in a summer program at the School of American Ballet, which is the official school of the New York City ballet. He earned a scholarship award from the French Ministry of Culture and became a full-time student at the school the following year.

Edward Liang, Maria Kowroski, and Benjamin Millepied of the New York City Ballet leap as they perform the Agon at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, California, on 	Oct. 14, 1998. (Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Edward Liang, Maria Kowroski, and Benjamin Millepied of the New York City Ballet leap as they perform the Agon at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, California, on Oct. 14, 1998. (Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

After coming to the U.S., Millepied became a protégé of the legendary dancer/choreographer Jerome Robbins around this time, originating a principal role in Robbins’ world premiere of “2 & 3 Part Inventions” set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach at the school’s 1994 Spring Workshop, according to his New York City Ballet bio. In 1995, he was invited to join the corps de ballet, ascended to being a soloist in 1998, and then principal dancer in 2002; he would stay with the City Ballet until 2011.

He also picked up honors along the way: The Prix de Lausanne Award in 1994 and the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Promise in 1995.

While still dancing — he appeared in the nationally-televised “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcast of “New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project: Ten New Years of Choreography” on PBS in 2002 — he also segued into choreography, creating pieces for French and New York-based companies in the early 2000s.

Millepied choreographed and appeared in ‘Black Swan’

A producer for Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” contacted Millepied while in search of a choreographer for the ballet film, and came to watch the dancer work on a new ballet, as he told Vulture in 2010.

“They were very secretive!” he said. “But they really liked what he saw, so they brought me into the office and said, ‘Read the entire script in a room.’ I couldn’t take it with me! So we talked about it, he said we’re in business, next thing we have to do is meet Natalie and see how you guys get along, because obviously she had to be comfortable with me.”

Portman had taken dance lessons when she was younger, but was not the elite dancer they needed for the film. Fortunately, as he explained, “Natalie was a sponge — the first class, I gave her very strict basics about the body, and you have to do it every day for the body to catch on, and I was really happy between the first and second day she assimilated extremely quickly. She has that sponge-like intelligence with her body. She’s obviously smart, but there are a lot of smart people who can’t move.”

Benjamin Millepied, director Darren Aronofsky, Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel at the
Benjamin Millepied, director Darren Aronofsky, Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel at the

Millepied also had a small role in the film, which Portman referred to in her Golden Globes acceptance speech in 2011. By then, she was pregnant with their first child.

“Thank you to Benjamin, who is helping me to continue this creation of creating more life,” she said. “Benjamin choreographed the film, and also you might remember him in the movie as the guy when they ask, ‘Would you sleep with that girl?’ And he’s like, ‘Pffsh, no.’ He’s the best actor. It’s not true: He totally wants to sleep with me!”

He and Natalie Portman have two children together

Millepied was first seen in public holding hands with Portman at the New York City Ballet’s spring gala in April 2010.

Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied at the New York City Ballet spring gala on April 29, 2010. (Fairchild Archive / Penske Media via Getty Images)
Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied at the New York City Ballet spring gala on April 29, 2010. (Fairchild Archive / Penske Media via Getty Images)

Their son Aleph Millepied-Portman arrived on June 14, 2011, People first reported, and their daughter Amalia Millepied-Portman joined the family on February 22, 2017, TODAY confirmed at the time.

Between both children, the couple married in 2012 on the California coast of Big Sur, People confirmed.

The magazine reported that family (including Aleph) and friends (including Ivanka Trump and Macaulay Culkin) were on hand, and they said their “I do’s” in a Jewish ceremony at a private home that faced the ocean. Instead of a wedding cake, they had French macarons, a nod to his heritage, People reported.

Portman celebrated their 10th anniversary together in 2022 with a black-and-white red carpet image on Instagram, captioning it, “Ten years today @benjaminmillepied, and it keeps getting better…”

However, in 2023, rumors began surfacing that Portman and Millepied had parted ways amid a rift in their marriage.

In an interview published in February 2024, Vanity Fair asked Portman how it felt to have people write about her personal life in a "very public way" as she was on the press trail promoting her Oscar-nominated film, "May December."

"It’s terrible, and I have no desire to contribute to it," she told the magazine.

Portman filed for divorce from Millepied in July 2023, and the divorce was finalized in February 2024, a rep for the actor confirmed to NBC News on March 8.

He was a guest judge on 'So You Think You Can Dance'

After leaving the City Ballet in 2011, he founded his company, the LA Dance Project, in 2012 and undertook some more high-profile appearances to help promote it. One of those was as a guest judge on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.”

As the LA Times reported, one of the show’s executive producers — Nigel Lythgoe — was also on the board of the Music Center, which had helped to launch the LA Dance Project.

Toward the end of the show, dancers from the Dance Project performed his new piece “Moving Parts.”

He was director of the Paris Opera Ballet — briefly

Not long after founding the LA Dance Project, Millepied was hired as director of the 335-year-old Paris Opera Ballet, one of the more esteemed positions in his field, and he ran both that and the Dance Project concurrently. But it didn’t last, and he left in 2016.

The New York Times reported that he wanted to focus on his choreography and on the Dance Project, “But his discontent with aspects of his role in Paris has been well documented over the last few months.”

He also discounted rumors that Portman didn’t want to live in Paris. “It is not true that Natalie wanted to go,” he said. “She has been entirely supportive of what I wanted to do.”

Millepied taught Timothée Chalamet how to walk in the desert

The arrhythmic moves those on Arrakis need to make in order to escape sandworms are a big part of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune,” and the director hired Millepied to “choreograph” the walk for the 2021 film.

“He’s a friend of mine, so I said to Benjamin, ‘I need someone to design a very simple way of walking the desert so that you will not trigger anything,’” Villeneuve told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s something that we see just a little glimpse of in Part One, but it’s a really beautiful design. It’s a way of walking in the desert that will not create a rhythm, because if you walk with a certain rhythm, the worms are attracted to that. So we designed a walk that emulates the sand and the sound of the desert. It’s a genius idea from Frank Herbert that I wanted to make sure would be on the screen.”

Benjamin Millepied at a screening of
Benjamin Millepied at a screening of

He reimagined the classic 0pera 'Carmen' for the big screen

Though he’d directed music videos and shorts, as well as choreographing for others, 2022’s “Carmen” was Millepied’s feature directorial debut.

The film stars Melissa Barrera as Carmen, a woman who flees Mexico after her mother is killed by the cartel. As she goes north, she meets veteran Aiden, portrayed by Paul Mescal, and the two escape together after a confrontation with border patrol.

“I always had a personal hobby of taking photos, a need to really look at what I was interested in visually,” he told The New York Times in 2023. “And I have always loved film; I remember watching ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ and Satyajit Ray’s ‘The Music Room,’ when I was around 9 years old. When I was at the School of American Ballet in my teens, I went to movies all the time. I always had this dream at the back of my head about directing a film.”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com