Mania Interview: Natalie Portman -

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Mania Interview: Natalie Portman

The Oscar-winning actress returns for Thor: The Dark World.

By Rob Vaux     November 05, 2013

Natalie Portman
© Marvel/Robert Trate

 Natalie Portman’s career started with a bang, playing a precocious pre-teen in Luc Besson’s action classic The Professional. Since then, she’s worked on a staggering number of projects, including Heat, Beautiful Girls, V for Vendetta, Garden State, the Star Wars prequels, and Black Swan (the last of which won her a richly deserved Oscar). After taking an extended maternity leave from moviemaking, she returns to the big screen this Friday: reprising her role as Jane Foster opposite Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. During the film’s press day, she spoke to journalists about the challenges of The Dark World, as well as the last two decades of her career.


Question: In the first film, Jane was very much a spectator, whereas this time she’s right in the middle of Thor’s world. Was that part of what excited you about the prospect of coming back?                

Natalie Portman: It was exciting to get to come back on a general level. I had such a wonderful experience on the first film, and it was great to get to work with Chris [Hemsworth] and Kat [Dennings] again. As far as going to Thor’s world, the best part was getting to work more with actors who I hadn’t done much with in the first film. Tom Hiddleston in particular was amazing to work with, but to have scenes with Rene [Russo] and Anthony [Hopkins], too, was just amazing. There was definitely a lot of laughing, maybe too much laughing on set.


Q: We asked Chris Hemsworth about shooting in London. How different is it filming in the UK as opposed to shooting in Hollywood?

NP: It’s hard to compare because we don’t really shoot in Hollywood at all these days. I love working here, though, and I’m a little envious of British actors and British crews because they can always work close to home. American and Australian actors, we end up like gypsies: moving from movie to movie, changing cities all the time.  You can really have such a fulfilling, wonderful rich career in London, between the theatre, the TV here, and the film. It’s pretty cool to get to live and work in the same place.


Q: As this world is getting more fantastical, and things are becoming wilder and stranger, what did you find to hook yourself as an actor to? How do you ground your performances and try to stay true to your characters?

NP: The humor helps. This script was very clever and witty, and that helps keep all the wild special effects in check. I also think that the characters are going through some very relatable things, even though they’re traveling between realms. You don’t look at it as, “Thor went off to fight this epic battle in a far off realm.” You look at it as, “there was this great guy who suddenly didn’t return your calls.”  That helps ground it. It’s a long-distance relationship. You’re getting to meet his parents and they don’t quite approve. Things like that. You find the normality of that, and all of the costumes and sets and wild things going on aren’t quite so wild anymore. It also helps that I’m the mortal among the gods and villains and monsters near me, so that’s naturally more grounded.  But a lot of the issues they have, they’re still pretty relatable. Rivalries between brothers and things like that.


Q: Your mother supposedly keeps a scrapbook of photos that she allows out on set, and all these shots in the flat scene are you through the ages. 

NP: Yes she does.

Q: Does that make you look back on you career at all, and the changes that have taken place over it? How do you see those early films now, twenty years after the fact?

NP: The scrapbook is funny, because it’s the same set of photos that she always lends out for every movie I’ve done for the past 20 years, and there’s a lot of characters that shouldn’t have the same experiences and family photos but do. There’s some interesting ones of, say, me and Tobey Maguire from when I’m young. There’s also a lot of Photoshopped stuff in there, with different people I’ve worked with. It’s strange, and interesting and kind of amazing to think of all that ground being covered. I’m very lucky to have had the career I’ve had and to work with the people I’ve gotten to work with, from Luc Besson all the way up to Alan Taylor. That album is a good way of remember just how fortunate I’ve been.


Showing items 1 - 6 of 6
Dazzler 11/5/2013 3:54:57 AM

Sad they don't film movies in hollywood anymore, irony since it was supposed to be a place to make movies.  Unions and taxes probably busted them? 

monkeyfoot 11/5/2013 8:19:41 PM

Rob, nice interview with questions not usually asked someone like her.

Dazzler, movies get made in different places for various reasons. It isn't just the fault of the implied greedy unions and evil taxes.

dojen1 11/6/2013 5:59:16 AM

My state (Louisiana) has, for many years, had some of the biggest tax incentives available to the motion picture industry. So many films, from Saturday night SyFy channel trash to big budget epics have filmed here, they now call us Hollywood South. I'm in radio news and have interviewed industry people who tell me the savings over filming in California is significant.

That said....awesome interview, Rob. I am a huge fan of Ms. Portman and SO look forward to seeing this movie this weekend.

monkeyfoot 11/6/2013 6:52:14 AM

Yeah, dojen. Alot of states have set up tax incentives to attract film business to their various areas because it can be a lucrative business. Hotels, food, lodging, location scouting, stagehand, actors and extras, and even FX are done in different states depending on if the incentives meet their needs. The Superman vs Batman movie is being mainly shot in Michigan because of this.

I know a fellow now in Atlanta who moved their for film contacts and the lucrative work. He's chiefly a storyboard artist.


Davewriter 11/6/2013 7:20:15 AM

Dazzler - Yup, expensive as hell!  One would think the studios would love to film "at home" but it is far less expensive to go elsewhere.  And here in town - everyone wants to be a star, or everyone wants to make a buck.  Plenty of stories where Show A rents a house/warehouse to use as a location, then folks next door are pushing their way in (in hopes of getting a part) or are just making so much noise that the production is forced to offer up money as a bribe to quiet things down.

The unions are tough (and expensive) as well.  I once worked in an amusment park that was used A LOT for movie / tv/ and advertising work.  But you'd get some ball buster union guy throwing his weight around and... really?  Do you really have a union classification for ride operator or mechanic?  The shoot would want to be in a particular place - you would be ready to throw a switch to turn on area lights - and suddenly there is all hell let loose because it takes a union person to throw that switch.   ????

Too bad!  There are a ton of talented people here that are losing work.

Just greed my friend... just greed...

millean 11/6/2013 8:53:00 AM

I'd love to be on hand for one of these movie shoots.  As she mentioned in the interview, I bet it would be a lot of fun with everybody joking around between (and during) takes when a cast likes working together.

I really like Natalie Portman, but I'm not convinced she's exactly right for this role.  Admittedly, part of that may have to do with the fact that Thor & Jane haven't really spend a lot of time together in the movie verse.  Also, I hated a few lines she had in the 1st movie, but that is more likely the writer's fault than hers.  All that said, I'd still be putty in her hands...  :)




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