Natalie Portman: Superheroine at 40? extraordinary

Actress, producer, director, mother and now superheroine. Natalie Portman has taken on the challenge of becoming the mighty Thor at the invitation of director Taika Waititi, who crowned a difficult journey in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Ten years ago, his Jane Foster actually made his debut in the Marvel universe as scientist and love interest for the main character in Thor. After the negative criticism of the sequel Thor: The Dark World, her character had been “frozen”, leaving her dissatisfied with the direction she was taking. Portman was more than ready to return, but with a reading that was not subordinate to Thor and that he gave agency to his character.

The real call came from Taika Waititi, who did more than just give her a lead role: He asked her to become a superhero on par with his Thor, complete with a hammer, musculature and superpowers. Portman, who turned forty on the set, has accepted a challenge she ten years ago would never have thought was offered to her.

What do you like about Jane Foster in this tough, tough heroine?

I admire Jane Foster a lot because I’m not like her: I can not be tough and strong all the time. It’s hard for me to relate to this type of people. But Jane is a person with her weaknesses, accompanied by her strengths. It’s great to be a female superhero at a time when there are more female characters, but it’s still not normal, it sounds amazing, extraordinary. There is still a lot to do, but I think it is important for all boys and girls to see superheroes of all kinds. When I was little, there was only one female heroine, so I could not choose who to identify with. There is a lot more variety today, thankfully, but still not enough.

What do you think of Jane’s character journey, and what do you expect from her future?

Ten years ago, I was excited to play female astrophysicist, even though that was obviously not the point of the situation. I think it is important to represent women in work contexts related to STEM (the mathematical and scientific sciences), also in entertainment products. At the time, I did not expect to be a hero either. Not at the age of forty, from a 160-centimeter-tall Jewish mother to this muscular blonde heroine … it was unexpected and revolutionary in its own way. I really do not know anything about the future of the character. I can tell you this: When the words “Thor will be back” appear at the end of the movie, Chris, Taika and I looked at each other in surprise and said, “really?”.

Let’s talk about the personal challenge that Jane faces in this film.

Without spoilers, I can say that I loved how Jane and the mighty Thor face enormous challenges and find the purpose of her two lives, human and “super”.

Jane does not seem to be afraid of anything … what are you afraid of instead?

I’m scared of everything: Covid, weapons, crowds. Jane is very brave … I’m not.

How fun was it to be in a movie with such a strong comic tone?

It’s incredible to work with Taika because he brings a continuous creative note to the set, every day, and asks for the same from everyone who works with him. I think it’s a time when we all need some comedy. As we recorded, Taika always reminded us how important it is to face life this way, with moments of joy and irony. What I like about Taika Waititis’ humor is that it’s never at anyone’s expense, it’s always kind. He wins me over as his way of making humor is always a bit funny but also full of emotion and authenticity.

Thor: Love and Thunder is really fun. Was there a scene where you could not stay serious?

The challenge on the set was always to stay serious. Taika, Chris (Hemsworth, the main character) and Tessa (Thompson, the interpreter of Valkiria), kept making jokes, and sometimes we all broke out in laughter. The extraordinary thing for me is how these comic moments also manage to seep into the dramatic sequences. It happened because Taika turns and turns the scenes and tries so many different approaches. It’s almost an experimental film, but on a Blockbuster budget. For me, who always wants to be prepared and planned for everything, it was a little confusing, but then it became … it’s unbelievable how much of our work resembles children playing and imagining things.

Do you have a harder time making comedy or drama?

You know, every movie has its own challenges and can be very rewarding. My career has led to me making more dramatic films, but I think the important thing in the comic field is to bring spontaneity and creativity.

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