Natalie Portman Arrived at Harvard Eager to Prove She Wasn't 'Just a Dumb Actress'

She may be an Oscar-winning actress and the director of an upcoming film, but Natalie Portman says that when she showed up at Harvard University as a freshman, she was eager to prove that she “wasn’t just a dumb actress.”

The A Tale of Love and Darkness actress/director returned to her alma mater in Cambridge, Mass., on Wednesday to serve as the keynote speaker at Harvard College’s Class Day ceremony, an honor she referred to as “one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been asked to do.”

PEOPLE Goes Behind the Scenes in Cannes with Natalie Portman!

It was a scorching-hot day in Cannes, and Natalie Portman had been sitting outside for hours doing video interviews, so when PEOPLE photographer Chris Floyd asked her if she would take her shoes off and wade in the cool waters of the Mediterranean for a shot, she agreed. For 15 minutes she happily splashed along the beach for PEOPLE’s exclusive look behind the scenes of the Cannes Film Festival in the magazine’s new issue.

Watch Natalie Portman and Matthew McConaughey Play Our Word Association Game from Cannes

Natalie Portman to Play Jacqueline Kennedy in Jackie

Jacqueline Kennedy was the epitome of dignity amid unspeakable pain in the days following her husband’s assassination in Dallas in 1963. And now, an Oscar-winning actress has been tapped to relive that historic time in a new movie about the woman who still enchants the nation.

Natalie Portman Says Her Oscar Is a 'False Idol'

Forget flaunting the Oscar statuette on the mantel. Natalie Portman prefers to keep her trophy tucked away – in fact, she’s not actually sure where it is.

“I think it’s in the safe or something. I don’t know. I haven’t seen it in a while,” Portman said in the May 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

Natalie Portman Has a Serious Style Streak (and Slightly Darker Hair!) at the Berlin Film Festival

Natalie Portman Escapes Her Beautiful French Wedding in a Helicopter (in Gorgeous New Miss Dior Ad, That Is): Exclusive Photos!

From Natalie Portman's Chic Dior Moment to Cate Blanchett's (Sad) Satin Gown, See the Buzziest Looks of the Week!

Throwback Thursday: See Which Stars Supported Zach Braff's Garden State Premiere 10 Years Ago

Zach “The Director” Braff returns on Friday with his second cinematic effort, Wish I was Here. It’s the Kickstarter-funded story of a struggling actor – his last job was a dandruff commercial – caught in the confusion of dealing with grown-up responsibilities, while still wishing to be a kid.

Oscars Gown Showdown: Mila Kunis vs. Natalie Portman -- Pick Your Favorite!