Natalie Portman, nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress/Drama for her much praised performance in Jackie, a movie about the former First Lady’s experiences in Dallas, her resolute masterminding of JFK’s majestic funeral, and her weeks after leaving the White House, sat down this week with her director, Pablo Larrain to talk about her role portraying one of the most famous women of the 20th century. Here are highlights from a discussion, moderated by AARP’s Lorrie Lynch that following a screening of Jackie, part of the 2016-2017 Variety and AARP Movies for Grownups Screening Series.
Natalie Portman on:
Preparing for the role: “We had a really great template from Noah [Oppenheim]’s script. It was incredible in the way that it showed different sides of her–with her priest, her friend Nancy, the very public side through the White House tour, and this very political side you see. I studied the documents that exist on that time. YouTube is also an incredible resource–hundreds of videos. Hours and hours of transcripts of interviews she gave where you hear her real voice. All of those where really telling and was a great way into the voice and accent.”
How she saw the woman behind the myth: “It’s the beauty of Pablo’s approach. He wasn’t trying to give an easy answer or definitive identity of who this person was, nor a specific feeling or message. It’s like real life and how human beings can be a million different things at once – wise, strong, authoritative, manipulative and not completely straightforward. It’s many things at once and a complicated reality.”
What she thought of Jackie as a private individual: “I think it’s amazing to see someone who’s been so socialized, but also taught to be strong and have a survival instinct / tribal resilience. To see the mix of someone who can have cocktails at a function but survive in those difficult situations is a strange and beautiful contrast.”
Pablo Larrain on:
The importance of legacy: “I think there is a very long distance in between what really happens and what we know. Even though we did research and made a movie about it, we will never really know who Jackie was and what happened between Jackie and JFK. If you knew you, wouldn’t be making a movie about it. We are interested and made a movie because of this big mystery. I like and respect that we never know and have to imagine these things. The politics are always changing and reshaping. When we made this movie, this country was different than it is today. It’s happening and in a few weeks it will be very different. Things change so fast and this movie means something totally different than before.”
Jackie as a private individual: “I think what is incredible and what makes her so fascinating and why there are thousands of books, movies, tv around her is that she is indescribable. She is probably the most mysterious person I’ve ever not gotten to know and why it’s created a fascination all over the world.”