Natalie Portman The Other Boleyn Girl Interview

She was first approached by a Revlon agent when she was just ten years old. She was in a pizza parlour on Long Island minding her own business, and yet even then there was something about Natalie Portman that caught the eye. Portman had no interest in modeling however, she wanted to act and three years later she made her film debut in Luc Besson’s The Professional. From that moment on Portman took her profession seriously. So much so that to this day she’s a bit of an anomaly among child stars. When you start out so young and are surrounded by adults it’s easy to see why so many go off the rails at some stage.

Natalie Portman never did. To date, she’s never been to rehab. There are no X rated videos floating around Hollywood and no arrests. She worked and she learned. Yet despite a long list of film credits it was her role as Padme Amidala in Star Wars that put her on the map. She gets to act queenly again in her latest role. In The Other Boleyn Girl Portman plays Anne, the sister who stirred up one major ruckus in ye olde England. Gaynor Flynn caught up with the actress at the recent Berlin Film Festival.

Gaynor Flynn: Have you been having nightmares about being beheaded lately?

Natalie Portman: No. [laughs]


Gaynor Flynn: The director Justin Chadwick said those scenes were particularly intense to shoot.

Natalie Portman: It was very intense and partly because of thelocation. We shot in Dover in December and it waslike a wind tunnel. Literally our entire crew hadhard hats on because it was too dangerous to be therebecause literally it was like a vortex. It was crazyand then we were going on set and going, what aboutus? [laughs] Because everyone else had their headsprotected because everything was flying around. So itwas that atmosphere of spirits or something beingaround.


Gaynor Flynn: What attracted you to this role?

Natalie Portman: I felt that Anne was a role I hadn’t played before andI rarely read in scripts this female that is just somany different things. She’s strong yet she can bevulnerable and she’s ambitious and calculating andwill step on people but also feels remorse for it. There’s all these different sides to her. She’s a veryproactive character she makes a lot of decisionsthroughout the film and so often female characters inmovies are sort of reactive characters. They’rereacting to what men do to them or they’re spurring aman along through his choices and his changes. So Ijust felt her to be a very rare character.


Gaynor Flynn: Do you think Hollywood is at all like the court ofHenry VIII?

Natalie Portman: I think every community has its own set of romancesand gossip and scandal and competition and rivalry andall of that.


Gaynor Flynn: How difficult was the accent to master? Did you tryto maintain it all the time, both on and off set?

Natalie Portman: It was challenging and I started working on the accenta month before shooting. Everyday I was doing classeswith a great dialect Jill McCulloch who was with us onset the whole time. But I can’t stay in it the wholetime. It’s too strange for me to call my mom and belike ‘hello mummy’. So I have to go back intoAmerican.


Gaynor Flynn: What if anything did you relate to?

Natalie Portman: She just interested me. I don’t know if I related toher. I don’t usually think how am I like thischaracter but you can empathise with someone and youcan try to understand their motivations and I felt Ikind of understood why she did what she did when Iread the script. But it wasn’t because I was like ohI’m like her.


Gaynor Flynn: Anne is extremely ambitious, how ambitious are you asa person?

Natalie Portman: I want to succeed but not at the expense of anybodyelse. That’s ambition but I think in a positive way. I want to succeed and I want other people to succeedand I think Anne is willing to sacrifice people shereally loves for her own betterment.


Gaynor Flynn: In the film Anne Boleyn is not only shown as a victimbut also driving her own destiny. How realistic isthis? Did you research her at all

Natalie Portman: I did a lot of research but I think you have to acceptthat all history is fiction. All history includes thebias of the teller and their own agendas. There arefeminists who want to paint Anne one way. There arebiographies from the period that painted her as awitch and said she had six fingers and she had cast aspell on the king. So there are all these differentversions. I wanted to stick to our story but Idefinitely did a lot of looking into those biographiesand trying to find our own truth for our story becauseobviously we’re telling the story that Phillipa toldin her book very creatively but very accurately interms of time line and detail.


Gaynor Flynn: What’s it like to wear those costumes.

Natalie Portman: Amazing, I mean Sandy Powell did an amazing job withthe costumes, they’re really, really incredible and itwas very helpful to the characters because it changesthe way you move and stand and everything andespecially with Anne the colours were so bold, itreally inspired some of her daring.


Gaynor Flynn: At the press conference you and Scarlet Johanssonadmired each other. Did you know each other beforethis film?

Natalie Portman: We had met each other briefly, like socially. We’d endup at the same parties and we’d say ‘oh hi, nice tosee you’ whatever but that was sort of the extent ofour interaction. So this is the first time we’dgotten to work together.


Gaynor Flynn: Are there any special traits you admire about Scarlet?

Natalie Portman: She’s always just true in what she does. I alwaysbelieve her in whatever she’s doing on screen. I justbelieve her and I think its just very honest work andshe’s really specifically good. You can be on herface for like minutes at a time and she doesn’t haveto say anything and you can see the thoughts goingacross her face its really very subtle and verythoughtful performance I think and it’s really greatto get to see her up close.


Gaynor Flynn: And as a person?

Natalie Portman: As a person she’s extremely strong and she always sayswhat she feels. It’s impressive because a lot ofwomen, and I am among them, will be very careful. Imight be like, ‘this might sound stupid but is thiswhat they would do in the scene’. She’s not like thatat all. She’s very direct. Very opinionated and thatwas inspiring to be around too because I tend to be alot more timid.


Gaynor Flynn: So in real life would you say you’re a little shyerthan the character you played on screen?

Natalie Portman: Certainly but I hate comparing myself to charactersbecause I’m not like any character.


Gaynor Flynn: You began your career at a very young age. Do you feelyou missed out on anything?

Natalie Portman: I definitely missed out on things but I alsodefinitely gained things from that experience. Youknow I was travelling to Japan when I was 12 years oldwhich none of my classmates got to do. But I alsowasn’t on the soccer team but I was in school fulltime. I never missed school for work, because I wasonly allowed to shoot movies in the summer and I wentto public school so I was with regular kids and I’mstill friends with all my high school friends so I hadthat experience. Also when you’re a kid actor you getapplauded a lot for being really grown up so you actreally grown up all the time. Like everyone’s reallyimpressed when you act really mature so you act reallymature even if you’re not. So there’s definitely thatside where I’m like oh I should of enjoyed beingimmature when it was acceptable. Now it’s too late. Now no one will think its cute anymore.


Gaynor Flynn: Do you wonder what your life would be like if youhadn’t discovered acting? And how do you handle thecelebrity side of the business?

Natalie Portman: I do wonder but you can never know. You only get onepath so I do wonder but I’m not sure. And as for thewhole celebrity thing, I’d say it has more positiveaspects than negative aspects. I have really luckyaccess to travel to meet people to go to places I’minterested in going to. To see things I’m interestedin seeing. It’s a very lucky position over all.


Gaynor Flynn: In interviews people always talk to you about having adegree and how there’ so many options open to you,outside of acting. Would you say that you love actingor are you just doing it for now?

Natalie Portman: I do love acting but I do love other things too and Idon’t want to limit myself. I don’t really feel likeI’m at a point in my life where I could say forever ornever about anything. I guess not committing toanything for ever but I’m very committed to it rightnow and I love what I do.


Gaynor Flynn: What was Harvard like, was it important to you to havethat normal aspect of life?

Natalie Portman: It was very important. I always think of likeHollywood as normal people and Harvard isextraordinary people because everybody I know fromschool is just amazing in what ever they do. They’rejust the best of the best in every field.


Gaynor Flynn: I understand you design shoes now?

Natalie Portman: [laughs] It was sort of like I couldn’t find shoesbecause I didn’t want to wear any animal products so Ijust couldn’t find any. I never wanted to be a shoedesigner, it was never ever something I thought aboutbut I was just like they don’t exist, we should makethem. I’m not making money off of it. All of myproceeds are going to animal charities so it’ssomething I have enjoyed doing but it was born out ofnecessity. I’ve found it interesting though, there’ssuch a whole other world surrounding the designing ofshoes and marketing them and so on.


Gaynor Flynn: Would you move into fashion design do you think?

Natalie Portman: I don’t think so. I don’t think I have a particulartalent for and it’s not really my thing. And I have noproblem finding the clothes that I like. There areplenty of clothes out there that I like.


Gaynor Flynn: So you don’t wear leather?

Natalie Portman: Yeah and I haven’t and even in work I don’t wear anyanimal products. So even in the movie all the fur andstuff is all fake and shoes and everything. Luckilyeveryone I’ve ever worked with has been very obligingabout that.


The Other Boleyn Girl

Starring: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana
Director: Justin Chadwick
Screenwriter: Peter Morgan
Genre: Dramas
Producer: Alison Owen
Composer: Edward Shearmur

Synopsis:
Based on the best selling novel by Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl is an engrossing and sensual tale of intrigue, romance, and betrayal set against the backdrop of a defining moment in history. Two sisters, Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) Boleyn, are driven by their ambitious father and uncle to advance the family’s power and status by courting the affections of the King of England (Eric Bana).

Leaving behind the simplicity of country life, the girls are thrust into the dangerous and thrilling world of court life - and what began as a bid to help their family develops into a ruthless rivalry between Anne and Mary for the love of the king. Initially, Mary wins King Henry’s favor and becomes his mistress, bearing him an illegitimate child. But Anne, clever, conniving, and fearless, edges aside both her sister and Henry’s wife, Queen Katherine of Aragon, in her relentless pursuit of the king.

Despite Mary’s genuine feelings for Henry, her sister Anne has her sights set on the ultimate prize; Anne will not stop until she is Queen of England. As the Boleyn girls battle for the love of a king - one driven by ambition, the other by true affection - England is torn apart. Despite the dramatic consequences, the Boleyn girls ultimately find strength and loyalty in each other, and they remain forever connected by their bond as sisters.

 

 
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