A fellow political junkie, Portman is still struggling to decide between Obama and Hillary Clinton. She can’t help remembering how impressed she was when she met the latter, who was sponsoring a FINCA-backed bill that went before the Senate. “I met with about 10 representatives that day and Hillary was by far the sharpest. Did you read Gloria Steinem’s op-ed piece?” Portman asks, citing Steinem’s January 8 column about Clinton in the New York Times. “Hillary’s just so experienced.”
Without question, both actresses are passionate about their beliefs. When they really get going on an issue, it can be a little like watching a Hot Topics segment of The View. “I’m into monogamy,” says Portman. “But I’m not really into marriage right now. I sort of hate the legal aspect of it. What does the state have to do with it? Why are they making rules that say my lover can stay in the United States if they’re foreign or share my health care benefits because I’m straight”—here her eyes flash with horror—“but if you’re gay, you can’t have that?”
“It’s so archaic,” Johansson agrees. “It’s just, like, bizarre to me. I feel like in 10 or 15 years’ time our children are going to look back and say, ‘What? You were around when gay people weren’t allowed to get married?’”
Johansson goes on to say that she is, for the record, excited about the idea of marriage and having a family. Harlot jokes aside, she’s painfully aware that the press has made much of her sex life—including whether or not she did, in fact, have relations with Benicio Del Toro in an elevator, as was rumored in 2004. (She has denied it.) “I’ve been battered for saying that I don’t believe humans are monogamous by nature,” she says, referring to an interview she gave two years ago. “The response was, like, ‘What a ho-bag!’ I didn’t mean that I don’t practice monogamy in my own life—of course I do! I’m not going to be in some tarty relationship. But I stick by what I said.
“I remember another time,” Johansson continues, getting more and more irritated, “I said I get tested for AIDS twice a year, and again that got spun as me being promiscuous. But I was single at the time, and I think it’s important to do that!”
“That’s totally responsible,” Portman says. “A great role-model thing to talk about.”
Of course, coming from Portman, an endorsement of safe sex doesn’t sound scandalous. Perhaps it’s her Harvard degree or—let’s be honest—her smaller cup size.