Natalie Portman recently opened up about director Mike Nichols, saying “he saved me.” Nichols passed away last week at the age of 83.

Portman made a statement Thursday regarding the legendary director, saying “He was the one who had the best words, the right hug for hard times, the funny comment to diffuse your pain… He saved me again and again. He was the best way to be a person and an artist. And the most, most fun.

The actress continued, saying “I send my deepest love to Diane, Jenny, Max, Daisy and their children, who filled his days with light.” Nichols had been married to ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer since 1988.

Mike Nichols directed Natalie Portman in the 2004 film, Closer, co-starring Jude Law, Julia Roberts, and Clive Owen. The film was a dark exploration into sexual indiscretion among adults, and Portman said Nichols helped the actress, who was only a teenager at the time, through the darker moments. Portman said she trusted Nichols to make the right decisions in the film, including cutting a nude scene.

“Well, back to the trust issue: When you trust someone, you”re willing to do everything and make mistakes and really expose yourself inside-out,” she said. “So we made sort of a pact that before…while we would shoot, we would just do everything. and then he cut it the way he cut, showed it to me [to] see if I agreed, and that’s what happened. We both kept our parts of the deal.”

Nichols spoke fondly about Portman back in 2004, saying  “People don’t quite realize how remarkable an actress she is, because she looks so amazing, but she is.” Portman would go on to win Best Actress in 2010 for her role in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.

Aside from Closer, Natalie Portman and Mike Nichols collaborated on the stage play The Seagull a few years before the film.

[photo credit: Pete Morawski]