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Thousands of immigrants uproot themselves every year in hopes of finding a better life with more opportunities in a new land. These are nine celebrity immigrants who left their native countries with dreams of gaining fame, fortune and success in Hollywood and beyond. All of the stars on this list have surpassed their greatest expectations.

1. Natalie Portman, Israel

Actress Natalie Portman was born an only child to a homemaker and gynecologist in Jerusalem. Her family relocated to the U.S. in 1984, when she was just three years old. They first lived in Washington, D.C. before settling in Connecticut. Portman, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, has said that although she “really loves the States…my heart’s in Jerusalem. That’s where I feel at home.” Portman is not only a successful actress appearing in films like Star Wars, V for Vendetta, Black Swan and Thor, she’s also an accomplished scholar. Portman graduated from Harvard University with an degree in psychology in 2003, and went on to graduate courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the spring of 2004. She also gave guest lectures at Columbia University and co-authored two scientific research journals. Portman is currently married to French ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied and they have one son together.

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Natalie Portman
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2. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austria

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was born in Austria in 1947, is one of the most successful immigrants to America. He began weight training at age 15 and relocated to the U.S. in his 20s after winning the body-building title Mr. Universe. Schwarzenegger said, “The Mr. Universe title was my ticket to America – the land of opportunity, where I could become a star and get rich.” After taking English classes at Santa Monica College in California, he earned a BA by correspondence from the University of Wisconsin–Superior, where he graduated with a degree in international marketing of fitness and business administration in 1979. He began acting, but admits his early roles were limited because of his muscular appearance and strong Austrian accent. However, Arnold’s breakout role came in 1982 when he appeared in Conan the Barbarian, and the film became a box-office hit. Then in 1984, Schwarzenegger was cast in what’s widely considered his signature role, the Terminator trilogy. He starred in a number of action movies throughout the next two decades including Kindergarten Cop, Total Recall and Junior. Schwarzenegger took a break from acting when he was elected 38th governor of California in 2003. He was re-elected in 2006 and served until 2011. Next up, Arnold will appear as host of The Celebrity Apprentice.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Joe Seer / shutterstock.com

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