Natalie Portman on Jackie: 'Too few directors' can 'relate to a female character'
Oscar-winning actress talks about how she channeled former First Lady following L.A. screening
Natalie Portman says Youtube videos that captured Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in her early days were indispensable tools in helping the actress channel the former First Lady in the upcoming film Jackie.
Portman said she watched numerous excerpts of Kennedy, including an interview before she became famous in which she admitted to a reporter she wasn't in love with her husband.
"You just see all the outtakes from this early interview to the comparison of how polished she is later and how she knows exactly how to be coy, feminine," Portman said at a private Q&A event following a screening of Jackie in Los Angeles Thursday. "You hear her voice very differently than on tapes of her privately where it's much sharper, much faster, a much deeper voice."
The film depicts John F. Kennedy's assassination told through the eyes of his widow who was determined to give him a memorable funeral.
Since it made its debut at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year, Jackie has wowed critics and showcased Portman as a potential Oscar nominee. Portman won an Academy Award in 2011 for her dark ballerina role in Black Swan.
"There is this theme of how we author our history, and how we create it and how we film it, and how history becomes a kind of storytelling."
It was directed by Chilean Pablo Larrain, known for provocative films such as No and Tony Manero. This is Larrain's first English-language film and is set for wide release in December. Portman commended him for approaching the film through a female perspective.
"Unfortunately, we have too few directors like Pablo, who can relate to a female character the same way they would to a man and see them as not just in relation to men as the wife, or the mother or the daughter or the girlfriend, but as a human being."
She also said unique filmmaking methods, including wavy camera work, helped tell the emotional story and unstable times.
"It's actually hand-held, not even steady most of the time. So he [the director of photography] had it on his shoulder, so we could improvise and they would just leave the scenes open and we could move, and each take was completely different."
The set was an exact re-creation of the White House interior at the time, and was always lit so actors could go from room to room as they wished to get comfortable in the space.
"There's a hundred people working together and everyone's making little choices at every moment," Portman said. "When it all collaborates together to make an emotional moment, it's magic."