Aspiring actors are invited to learn the craft of acting from one of the most versatile actresses of her generation—Natalie Portman. With her new online MasterClass, the 37-year-old film actress, producer, writer, and director shares the techniques at the heart of her acting process via 20 video lessons. Portman made her acting debut as a tween with the role of Mathilda, the young protegee of a hitman, in the 1994 film Leon: The Professional. And the prolific star has continued to captivate audiences ever since with roles like the troubled ballerina in Black Swan for which she won an Oscar, the First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in Jackie, a young stripper in Closer, a cellular-biology professor in Annihilation, as well as playing Padme Amidala in the Star Wars franchise.

In her online class, Natalie will not be teaching acting exercises she picked up in theater arts classes. Indeed, Portman is among the group of actors who never attended a traditional drama school. Rather, she learned the craft through hands-on experience, and now she’s excited to be passing along many of the techniques that have served her so well. She says, “I’ve been working for 25 years, and I learned by doing, and then I pieced together different things that are helpful for me that I want to share with you.” Specifically, Portman breaks down her process for creating complex characters through psychology, voice, gesture, and movement.

Lesson topics include: Getting to Know Your Character, Developing Your Character Through Research, Developing Your Character’s Physicality, Dialect Coaching: Research and Practice, Working on Set, Improvisation, Green-Screen Acting, and Working with Directors.

Natalie certainly knows what it takes to commit to a character’s physicality. After all, she intensively trained with a ballet instructor five hours a day, six days per week for several months leading up to her Black Swan shoot.

For Jackie, Portman collaborated with dialect coach Tanya Blumstein to master First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s speech patterns. Natalie explains how she learned to pay close attention not only to her character’s manner of speech but to Jackie’s breathing pattern while she spoke. Noting when to take breaths in character allowed Natalie to “read what is sort of happening underneath what the person is saying.”

Portman has worked with many top-notch directors over the course of her career including Darren Aronofsky, Mike Nichols, Anthony Minghella, Pablo Larrain and the unconventional director Terrence Malick. Wanting her students to benefit from these rich experiences, she teaches how to develop a strong rapport with a director from the beginning of a collaboration to help bring out an actor’s best performance.

Portman also delves into the topic of Green-Screen Acting which carries its own particular set of challenges. “Green-Screen acting is kind of the purest form of acting because you’re inventing both what’s outside of you and what’s inside of you as an actor,” she says.

In the final lesson, Active Empathy, Portman says, “Your job is to imagine someone else’s life. That is what we do. We say, ‘I wonder what that person feels and thinks.’ And that’s the experience in a movie theater. We’re sharing this social experience with other people for two hours, caring about someone else’s life. It’s the act of empathy.” She asserts acting is a joyful and creative process that’s not to be feared, but embraced, and it’s an exercise in imagination–so enjoy it to the fullest!

Students receive a downloadable workbook with lesson recaps. Natalie gives out assignments for developing performances using well-known films and performances to analyze character arcs, research characters, and really tune into a director’s approach. Interested participants can check out MasterClass.com for more information.

 

Comments

comments