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Natalie Portman began acting professionally at 12 and won an Oscar before she turned 30. As a self-taught actor, she uses personal techniques to create compelling, complex characters. In her first-ever acting class, Natalie shows how empathy is at the core of every great performance, how to bring real-life details into every role, and how to build your own creative process. Get ready for your breakout performance.
Meet your new instructor: Oscar-winner Natalie Portman. As a self-taught actor, she’s built a repertoire of personal techniques for developing characters and shaping performances, and she’ll be sharing them with you.
Getting to Know Your Character
To fully embody a character, you first need to gain a thorough understanding of what makes them tick. Natalie teaches you how to dig for illuminating details, create a personal timeline, and analyze influential relationships.
Developing Your Character Through Research
Real-life resources are invaluable for developing your character. Natalie explains how historical research, documentaries, and even YouTube videos can help you understand your character’s motivations and behavior.
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Developing Your Character’s Physicality
To develop your character, you will need to use your body. Natalie teaches you how to find the right movements and physical exercises, as well as how to use wardrobe and makeup, to embody the role.
Scene Studies: Physical Gesture
Natalie shares three performances by actors who have inspired her, breaking down thow they use physical movement to reveal character in surprising ways.
Case Study: “Black Swan”
In this case study, Natalie reveals how she prepared for her role in “Black Swan” as a ballerina losing her grip on reality, which included training with a ballet instructor for months.
Dialect Coaching: Research and Practice
When preparing for roles that involve a foreign language, accent, or dialect, Natalie works with her dialect coach, Tanya Blumstein. In this lesson, Natalie and Tanya demonstrate how they collaborate to shape the voice of a character.
Dialect Coaching in “Jackie”
In this case study, Natalie and Tanya share how they prepared for Natalie’s role in “Jackie” as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
Working on Set
Natalie shares her techniques for working on set. You’ll learn how to emotionally connect with collaborators, handle vulnerability and self-consciousness, and maintain energy during a long day of shooting.
Performing on Camera
After years of performing on camera, Natalie has figured out what helps her achieve her best work. She explains her personal process as well as other tips for making the most of your time in front of the camera.
Working With Directors
The rapport you establish with a director from the beginning of your collaboration can help you deliver a successful performance. Natalie teaches you how to navigate this relationship and bring your own ideas to the table.
Successful Collaborations With Directors
Natalie reveals what she’s learned from her collaborations with gifted directors, including Darren Aronofsky, Mike Nichols, Anthony Minghella, and Pablo Larraín.
Case Study: Working With Terrence Malick
Unlike many of the directors she’s worked with, Terrence Malick doesn’t follow the traditional rules of filmmaking. Natalie shares what she learned from this acclaimed director’s unconventional approach.
Playing a Real Character
Playing a historical figure requires intensive research into both the private and public sides of your character. Natalie discusses how she stays true to the facts about her character while leaving room for invention and creativity.
Assignments in Developing Performance
Using well-known films and performances, Natalie guides you through exercises to help you analyze a character arc, conduct character research, and dissect a director’s approach.
Natalie sees improvisation as the opportunity to create. She’ll teach you how to engage with your environment, be alert, and actively listen.
Demo: Working With the Set, Props, and Camera
Natalie walks you through a sample scene, pointing out important questions to ask the production designer and director. She also shows you how to work with the set, props, and camera.
Green-screen acting forces you to rely solely on your imagination. In this lesson, Natalie offers practical tips on how to approach this unique acting challenge.
Advice for Actors
Natalie gives advice for auditioning, staying inspired, being an advocate for the people you work with, and nourishing your artistic spirit.
In her final lesson, Natalie encourages you to see acting as an exercise in empathy. As you step into your character’s shoes, she encourages you to be playful, not worry about making mistakes, and have fun above all else.