Natalie Portman Shares 'Wild' Discovery She Made Researching Her Family Tree (Exclusive)

The actress opened up about her family while speaking to PEOPLE at the premiere of her new Apple TV+ series 'Lady in the Lake’

<p>AFF-USA/Shutterstock</p> Natalie Portman at the preview screening of her Apple TV+ series "Lady In The Lake"


Natalie Portman at the preview screening of her Apple TV+ series "Lady In The Lake"

Natalie Portman made a "wild" family discovery while working on her new noir thriller Lady in the Lake.

Speaking exclusively to PEOPLE at the premiere of the Apple TV+ limited series on Wednesday, July 10, the actress, 43, shared how she was able to explore her grandmother and great-grandmother's history during the shoot in Baltimore after working on a family tree for her mom Shelley.

"I don’t like to compare myself to my characters. I always try to explore something different from what I am in my real life," Portman tells PEOPLE of her role as Maddie Schwartz. "But something that was really different for this was that my grandmother was in her 40s during the 1960s, and she was originally from Baltimore — where this is set — in the Jewish community."

"I really got to explore what her life might have been like, what challenges she might have faced, what feelings she might have been frustrated by. And so that was really amazing to imagine."

Portman then went on to share how she also made a surprising discovery about some of her family members.

<p>Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty</p> Natalie Portman at the preview screening of her Apple TV+ series "Lady In The Lake"

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Natalie Portman at the preview screening of her Apple TV+ series "Lady In The Lake"

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"I was actually doing a family tree for my mom’s birthday at the same time, and it was so wild to discover the immigration papers of my great-grandparents coming from Eastern Europe to Baltimore, to find census records that were where they lived in Baltimore and then be walking those streets," she tells PEOPLE at the premiere, which was held at the Paley Museum in New York City.

"There’s a Jewish deli there that’s been open for like 100 years — walking in and thinking my great-grandmother walked in here. I never really had that connection to place because my family was in a different city every generation, often different country every generation, so it was really wild to feel that for the first time," she continues.

<p>Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic</p> Natalie Portman with her mom Shelley on January 14, 2011

Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Natalie Portman with her mom Shelley on January 14, 2011

Lady in the Lake, a TV adaptation of Laura Lippman's 2019 novel of the same name, stars Portman as Maddie Schwartz, a Jewish housewife who leaves her husband in pursuit of a career in investigative journalism. She becomes obsessed with the death of Cleo Johnson, played by Queen’s Gambit star Moses Ingram, after moving to a largely Black neighborhood where she can afford to live without her husband — and the subsequent unraveling mystery pulls at broader questions of race and class in 1960s Baltimore.

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<p>Apple TV+</p> Natalie Portman in 'Lady in the Lake'

Apple TV+

Natalie Portman in 'Lady in the Lake'

Related: Natalie Portman Says She'd Never 'Show My Boobs' for a Role: 'I Don't Want My Kids to See Pictures Online'

In June, Portman told PEOPLE that it was particularly interesting for her to explore “how someone who’s oppressed can also be an oppressor” through the series.

“Maddie gets blind to the effects of actions on others because she is so consumed by her personal journey,” the Black Swan star also told Vanity Fair about the role.

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The film is produced by MountainA, a production company co-founded by Portman and Sophie Mas, which had its first hit last year with May December, scoring Portman a Golden Globe nomination for her acting in the film. Portman and Mas both serve as executive producers on Lady in the Lake.

The first two episodes of Lady in the Lake will premiere on AppleTV+ on July 19.

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Read the original article on People.