Natalie Portman has this week been making headlines for denying she and Moby ever dated.

And this is apparently not the first time a man has wildly and boldly misread Portman's friendship for love.

Rumours abounded some years back acclaimed author, and her longtime friend, Jonathan Safran Foer left his wife Nicole Krauss for Portman after the two developed a friendship, mostly based on exchanging emails.

But Portman, happily married to dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, had to tell Foer he had misread the situation.


This week the Hollywood actor and household name took to Harper's Bazaar to correct Moby on claims the pair dated.

The seminal 1990s dance music figure, who is releasing his memoir Then It All Fell Apart in Australia next month, recently released quotes to media to aid promotion of the book.

He claimed the pair saw each other, went to parties and he visited her while she attended Harvard University. But Portman has disputed the claims, calling him "creepy" and saying the book is factually incorrect.

In the book, Moby explains his version of meeting Portman after a show in Austin, Texas.

"I walked to the door, sure that this was a misunderstanding or a joke, but there was Natalie Portman, patiently waiting," Moby wrote.

"She gazed up at me with black eyes and said, 'Hi'. As if this were normal, as if we knew each other, as if movie stars randomly showed up after my shows."

He recounted the pair's dating life, including attending parties in New York City and visiting her at Harvard University "kissing under the centuries-old oak trees".

"At midnight she brought me to her dorm room and we lay down next to each other on her small bed. After she fell asleep, I carefully extracted myself from her arms and took a taxi back to my hotel."


Moby said throughout the relationship he longed for it to be over as romantic entanglements triggered his panic attacks.

"It (the anxiety) wanted one thing: for me to be alone … nothing triggered my panic attacks more than getting close to a woman I cared about."

He said he was relieved when Portman ended it because he was suffering crippling anxiety.

"For a few weeks I had tried to be Natalie's boyfriend, but it hadn't worked out … I thought that I was going to have to tell her that my panic was too egregious for me to be in a real relationship, but one night on the phone she informed me that she'd met somebody else," Moby wrote.

But Portman lashed the claims, saying the book wasn't fact-checked and got her age wrong.

She also called Moby "creepy" and said the pair never dated, but he was an older man hanging around her after she graduated school.

"I was surprised to hear that he characterised the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school," Portman told Harper's Bazaar.

"He said I was 20; I definitely wasn't. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18. There was no fact-checking from him or his publisher — it almost feels deliberate."

The book says the pair first met in early September 1999. Portman, who was born in June 1981, would have been 18 at the time.

"That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasn't the case. There are many factual errors and inventions. I would have liked him or his publisher to reach out to fact-check."

She claimed they spent time together a handful of times after Moby said "let's be friends".

Moby, of course, found what must have been the only evidence he had on hand of the pair hanging out, a photo where Portman looks young and gorgeous, and Moby's smile is wide and powerful.

Anyway, Moby posted the photo on Instagram, saying he was "confused" after reading the "gossip piece" where Portman had disputed virtually everything he'd said about their relationship.

"As we did, in fact, date," Moby wrote. "And after briefly dating in 1999 we remained friends for years. I like Natalie, and I respect her intelligence and activism. But, to be honest, I can't figure out why she would actively misrepresent the truth about our (albeit brief) involvement.

"The story as laid out in my book Then It Fell Apart is accurate, with lots of corroborating photo evidence, etc."

This was just the beginning of responses from Moby, as he took to Instagram several times to accuse "trolls" of ignoring the glaringly obvious evidence he and Portman had, albeit briefly, dated.

This is not the first time a man has publicly assumed Portman was in love with them.

Foer allegedly separated from his wife of 10 years in 2014 to be with Portman, who he'd fallen in love with mostly via email.

The two had become friends 12 years earlier when she attended "one of my first readings for my first novel", according to Foer. Portman, a fan of the blockbuster novel Everything Is Illuminated, struck up a friendship with the author, and the two began exchanging emails and cultivated a close personal friendship that would last well over a decade.

When Foer published his nonfiction book Eating Animals, Portman wrote an impassioned op-ed for The Huffington Post, saying the book "changed" her into a vegan activist after 20 years as a vegetarian.

She said the points Foer "bravely details" in his book, about the human suffering involved in the animal agriculture industry were "universally compelling". She described being so moved by a chapter about "pig sh*t" affecting human health she read it out loud to her friends.

Portman then signed on to co-produce and narrate a documentary based on the book, which Foer would write. According to gossip columns, it is during this period Foer fell for Portman and decided Portman had also fallen in love with him.

While the documentary was only released in 2018, Foer split with his wife, acclaimed novelist Nicole Krauss, in 2014.

Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer pictured in 2014. Photo / Getty Images
Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer pictured in 2014. Photo / Getty Images

A.J. Daulerio, of notorious gossip site Gawker, wrote in a since-deleted post on Ratter Foer told his then wife he had fallen in love with a beautiful and intellectual movie star. Daulerio also claimed Foer had not checked with Portman to see if she returned his feelings but had boldly assumed the feeling was mutual.

Foer divorced from his wife, and when he approached Portman with the news, she was shocked, according to Daulerio.

Portman, who has been married to Millepied since 2012, reportedly had to tell the famous writer the feeling was not mutual.

It's worth noting everything pertaining to Foer and Portman, and a relationship developed over emails, is a mere suggestion by a gossip columnist.

However …

In 2016, two years after Foer's divorce, the pair decided to release a set of their emails to T Magazine, ostensibly to promote their various projects — hers, a directorial debut, and his, the release of his first novel in over a decade.

The exchange is based on the premise Foer "lost all his emails" and was unable to retrieve their 12 years of correspondence.

So the pair made public a new set of exchanges to "replenish" and "redeem" what happened in the past.

Look, it's pretty weird. I mean, one thing that springs to mind immediately is that you don't really lose emails. Surely, if one user loses them the other, say Portman, would still have them on her end. Who knows?

Portman did say she was glad the emails had been lost, as she'd previously been trying to impress Foer. She said she no longer was and was happy to send him videos of a "sax-playing walrus".

But the new emails talk little about their projects and seem more a way for Foer and Portman to impress each other with their wit, humour, and emotional depth.

"An ex-boyfriend of mine used to call me 'Moscow' because he said I was always looking out the window sadly, like 'Moscow', like some Russian novel or Chekhov play," Portman writes.

"Clearly there were grounds for this ex getting fired, but he did have a point — I have that longing, yearning, it's-better-over-there tendency."

The article is dotted with photos of Portman in her underwear.

Foer, often writing his emails late at night, talks about the Gettysburg Address, and guinea pigs and asks lots of questions about Portman.

The piece ends with an original email from 2002, which Foer was able to miraculously retrieve, in which Portman muses about viewers of film and novels filling in the blanks when a blank space is left for them.

Foer went on to date another Hollywood actor, Michelle Williams, for a period before she married musician Phil Elverum.