If you’re like us, after this rough, crazy couple years you may not even remember the mini scandal in which Moby claimed he had dated Natalie Portman — and she clapped back so hard he had to basically go into hiding.
To catch up, the Natural Blues musician mentioned offhand in a 2008 Spin interview that he’d had a “very brief affair” with the Star Wars star. But he expounded on that when he released his memoir in May 2019. Then It Fell Apart included quite a few stories of run-ins with celebs. Specifically with celeb women. (He said he hooked up with Lana Del Rey, too.)
In the book he described meeting Natalie backstage at one of his shows and claimed she flirted with him, leading to them meeting up in New York to attend the VMAs together. He wrote:
“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. I was relieved that I’d never have to tell her how damaged I was.”
That was… NOT how she remembered it! Obviously she was asked about the previously unknown coupling shortly afterward and told Harper’s Bazaar UK he had never been her “boyfriend” in any way, shape, or form — but was actually just another “much older being creepy” around her!
“I was surprised to hear that he characterized 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.”
That’s right! Natalie says they met when she was still a teenager! (He would have been 34 at the time.) She continued to paint the whole recollection as full of fibs, saying:
“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. That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasn’t the case.”
The backlash over what was immediately seen as a hugely disrespectful lie was so bad it forced him to cancel his book tour and just disappear for a few months.
Eventually he kind of apologized — though he never admitted to lying about anything. Mostly he said he was sorry for not giving her the heads up about her inclusion in the book, a common courtesy with memoirs these days. In his apology he even made a point of restating their age difference (which is actually closer to 16 years) as though he still believed she was 20 despite her correcting the record on that:
“I accept that given the dynamic of our almost 14 year age difference I absolutely should’ve acted more responsibly and respectfully when Natalie and I first met almost 20 years ago.”
OK, so now that we’re two years out from that debacle, what does he have to say about it?
In a new interview with The Guardian on Tuesday, he was asked about it and at first weighed whether to address it at all, saying:
“You know, you’re asking me to open up such a can of worms… There’s no good way to answer: one option is terrible, the other is really terrible. So if we were playing chess right now, this is the part where I’d pick up my phone and pretend I’ve got an emergency call… A part of me wishes I could spend the next two hours deconstructing the whole thing. But there’s levels of complexity and nuance that I really can’t go into.”
OK, it definitely wouldn’t take two hours to say he lied about the whole thing or even that he just misunderstood the nature of their relationship. Right? So what does he have to say about it? Well, he doesn’t like the word “creepy,” that’s for sure. He said:
“I wouldn’t use that word. But when I was an out-of-control alcoholic and drug addict I definitely acted selfish and incredibly inconsiderately towards family members and friends and girlfriends and people I worked with.”
OK, but now he’s talking about how he acted in 1999, when they had their controversial interactions. He was not still drinking or abusing drugs when he wrote the book; he got sober in 2008.
He certainly can’t blame publishing the book on his “out-of-control” behavior during his addiction. What does he have to say about that? Well, he’s not apologizing exactly — though he did confess some regret:
“There is a part of me in hindsight that wishes I hadn’t written the book. But then, sales figures indicate that not that many people actually read it.”
What tons of people did read about was the controversy. But by canceling his book signings and telling his team not to send him any “press links or reviews” he was able to ride out the storm. He explained:
“When the lunacy was happening a couple of years ago, I took refuge in my ignorance. Obviously it became hard to ignore, especially when I had the tabloids camped outside my door. But I guess I realized that if everyone in the world hates me I can still wake up in my same comfortable bed every morning and go hiking.”
Well, if you’ve ever wondered what life is like for a wealthy person going through that kind of scandal, getting canceled, etc., we guess that’s it.
Just for the record, as far as we can tell, Moby has yet to say he say he lied or that Natalie was right and they never dated. Just wanted to make that clear.
[Image via WENN/Sidewalk.]