Natalie Portman Trashes Method Acting For The Best Reason

By Britta DeVore | Published

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While it may have worked for Jeremy Strong in Succession and Jared Leto in Suicide Squad, Natalie Portman says that she’s never tried method acting. Taking things a step further, the Academy Award-winning actress says that the technique is something that only a man can do, as she views it as “a luxury that women can’t afford.” 

A Luxury Woman Can’t Afford

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Further explaining her reasoning behind her comments, Natalie Portman used her performance as ex-First Lady and historical icon Jackie Kennedy as an example. “I don’t think that children or partners would be very understanding of, you know, me making everyone call me ‘Jackie Kennedy’ all the time,” she said, nodding to her husband of more than a decade, Benjamin Millepied, and the couple’s two children.  

Actor By Day, Parent By Night

Recognizing that she has two major labels – one as a professional actress and the other as a mother, Natalie Portman knows that she couldn’t go home at night and keep up with her current character as it wouldn’t be fair to her family.

While many performers who use the method approach can’t seem to turn it off, Portman says that, when she gets home, the character drops and the family matriarch emerges. Of course, she handles her character development in all sorts of other ways, with her preparation for Black Swan seeing her rigorously trained as a ballet dancer for several months and dropping her diet to only consist of almonds and carrots. 

May December

Her non-method stance is certainly something that her character, Elizabeth, didn’t adhere to in Natalie Portman’s latest film, May December. In the feature, Portman’s character travels to study the inspiration for her next big role – Julianne Moore’s Gracie. A middle-aged woman and convicted sex offender, Gracie is married to Joe (Charles Melton), the now grown man whom she seduced when he was only a teenager.Throughout the film, Elizabeth’s intentions are unclear as she morphs further and further into Gracie by any means necessary. Really digging into the character, Elizabeth is willing to push societal and moral boundaries to make sure she understands Gracie’s motives and desires inside and out. The Netflix film delivers wowing performances from Natalie Portman and the rest of her cast members, even if Portman didn’t go full method herself.

What Is Method Acting?

Based on the principles first put forward by actor and director Konstantin Stanislavski, method acting refers to a type of performance in which the actor gets fully into their character throughout filming. Marlon Brando’s work in A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the most famous examples of the technique, with more recent stars like the aforementioned Jared Leto and Jeremy Strong continuing to lean into the teachings. In fact, as Natalie Portman pointed out, the majority of actors who we hear about leaning into method acting are men.

A Dark Road

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Now that he’s finally dropped the accent, fans have all but forgotten that Austin Butler went full method for his role as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. While Brian Cox disagreed with Jeremy Strong’s method practices on Succession, he didn’t go nearly as far as Jared Leto has in the past. The stories surrounding Leto’s portrayal of the Joker in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad are the stuff of legend yet paint a crystal clear picture of why Natalie Portman is beyond certain that she doesn’t want to go down that road.Source: The Wall Street Journal