Movies

Natalie Portman on how she prepared for the role of Jackie

Natalie Portman discusses her thoughts on playing one of the most iconic women of all time; Jackie Kennedy.

There's no denying that Natalie Portman performed the role of Jacqueline Kennedy in Jackie stunningly.

Jackie focuses on the life of Jackie Kennedy and the death of her husband, John F. Kennedy.

After this challenging role and great responsibility, Portman, 36, discusses her thoughts on one of the most iconic women of all time, and the way in which she prepared for the film.

Natalie Portman at the 54th New York Film Festival - 'Jackie' screening.

Portman knew the role of Jackie would be one of her greatest challenges yet.

"It was really a path of discovery for me, because it’s such an unimaginably horrific situation Jackie went through – and there were so many different reactions that were possible and human,” Portman says.

“Because she was also a scholar and lover of history, I think Jackie understood that the story you tell about a life is what is most important, because it’s what people will keep telling for all time. I found it really fascinating that during this time she was both trying to control her husband’s story and also kind of getting lost in it as a way to navigate her grief."

Portman as Jackie.
Jackie Kennedy and Natalie Portman.

When preparing for the role of Jackie, Portman immersed herself in countless articles, biographies, newsreel footage, tapes and several documentaries.

"It was really scary taking on such a well-known figure because of course people know so well what Jackie looked like, how she spoke and how she moved,” confesses Portman.

“On the other hand, there were a lot of resources to pull from. I had hundreds of hours of video footage of audio tapes and transcripts of interview and biographies so I could soak it all in.”

Portman playing the role of Jackie.

A distinctive challenge Portman was faced with was the way in which Jackie Kennedy spoke.

“She had such an amazing voice,” Portman muses.

“It was truly from another era. She had a finishing school sort of way of presenting yourself – very demure, where you bat your eyelashes and speak in a breathy voice. Her accent was posh but also mixed with a real New York accent and also a little British. Her dialect is an unusual combination of sounds that were completely unique to her.”

Portman discusses the scenes in which Jackie is completely alone, comforting herself while she grieves, without being in the public eye.

“I think you see people being most themselves when they're alone because they're not having to put on a face for anyone,” Portman says.

“That’s especially true for Jackie, who obviously had to pretend to be so many different things at different times. In those moments alone, you hopefully get a sense of her true self.”

Natalie Portman at the premiere of 'Jackie' during the 73rd Venice Film Festival.

Portman believes the audience will all have different experiences when watching Jackie.

“I think every individual will have their own experience of who Jackie is,” she concludes.

“But the one thing I truly hope is that you see someone who is not just an icon but a very human, complex woman who found her own way through a situation few of us could."

After the release of Jackie, Portman has received substantial recognition, from being nominated twice for a Grammy as best actress in a leading role, to receiving a Golden Globe for best performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama.

Jackie is currently on NEON.