Natalie Portman has renewed respect for actors playing superheroes

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Natalie Portman has renewed respect for actors playing superheroes
Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman becomes The Mighty Thor in the Marvel Studios fi lm Thor: Love and Thunder.
STAR / File

It’s a tale of two Thors as Natalie Portman goes from Thor’s ex-girlfriend to The Mighty Thor in the Marvel Studios film Thor: Love and Thunder.

In the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film, the Oscar-winning star returns as Jane Foster, a famous astrophysicist who also happens to be “the one that got away” of the “god of thunder” Thor (played anew by Chris Hemsworth). It turns out she’s a lot more than that. As this film shows, she’s also worthy of wielding her ex-boyfriend’s magical hammer. And when Thor and Mighty Thor meet (again), sparks don’t just fly, they ignite love and thunder.

In the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fi lm, Natalie returns as Jane Foster, a famous astrophysicist who also happens to be ‘the one that got away’ of the ‘god of thunder’ Thor (played anew by Chris Hemsworth).

Natalie played the role in 2011’s Thor and 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. Director Taika Waititi said in the production notes, it was exciting to bring Natalie back in this “new iteration, in this new storyline…in which Jane Foster becomes a superhero.”

“It’s brilliant to see Natalie in a way that we don’t expect. She’s such a great actor, and in keeping with reinventing this franchise again and again, we didn’t want to go back to seeing her in the same role. We don’t want to see her just being a scientist on Earth waiting for Thor,” Taika explained.

With Tessa Thompson who plays Valkyrie. — Photos courtesy of Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios

As Thor: Love and Thunder also explores Jane and Thor’s love story and breakup, Natalie gets to show her comedic timing and “great sense of humor” alongside Chris.

The actress was hugely enthusiastic and game for anything collaborative, the Australian star said of his leading lady. “This is a very different direction for the character, so it was like a rebirth. She was down for it. It was so much fun,” Chris was quoted as saying in the press notes.

The filmmakers and lead cast, including Natalie, got to talk more about the upcoming movie in a recent virtual junket attended by The STAR and other press.

She particularly spoke about how playing The Mighty Thor renewed her respect for actors taking on superhero roles. “I feel like getting this opportunity first of all, with such an incredible way to explore a female superhero that could be quite vulnerable and weak and find strength in that, and be more like a human, I could relate to personally,” began one of Hollywood’s “most bankable” actresses.

“And then also, I think it just gave me renewed respect for what Chris (Hemsworth) has been doing for over a decade, Tessa (Thompson) has been doing. Because I see how much work goes into it that I don’t think I was aware of when I was just like the chick in the first one.

“I didn’t see everything that went on behind the scenes, you know. Now, when I got inside into all of the choreography and the training and everything, I would like (to say), wow this is a triple job of what I was doing back then.”

Natalie could still remember the exact moment she first put on a version of the Thor suit, saying, “It was pretty wild, of course.”

“After seeing Chris wear the costume for so many years, and then, to try the version on myself and getting fitted for all the arm cuffs and the boots and everything was pretty surreal for the first time,” she admitted.

When Natalie was asked about her doing “some weight-lifting” to build on some muscle, as seen in the publicity pictures, Chris interjected and said, “Some weightlifting? She led the charge.”

The rest of the cast noted that she was first in the morning at the gym and that they “tried to keep up with her.”

Natalie reacted, “That’s very sweet, but I was especially grateful to everyone’s imagination to cast a five-three actress in a six-foot role. I think that takes a real leap of possibility in your mind and probably not something I will, you know, get the opportunity to do, to be imagined as, by any other group.”

Natalie couldn’t deny how much of a challenge it was getting into the superhero mold. “You know, Tessa and Chris obviously had a lot of experience in that world, so got to learn a lot from them.”

Besides Natalie and Chris, also present at the virtual presscon were Tessa Thompson (as King Valkyrie), Christian Bale (as Gorr the God Butcher), producer Kevin Feige and director Taika Waititi.

Meanwhile, she also dished on the differences between her Thor character and that of Chris. She was quick to say no when someone said hers is “better,” describing it instead as “completely different.”

“I think he’s (Thor) obviously very assured and experienced in being a superhero, and she’s just trying to figure it out,” shared Natalie.

“She’s new at it. And also keeps reverting to the human form, so there’s kind of danger always that, like, it might be her last moment getting to experience that. I don’t know what that might be… that might be a big spoiler, sorry!”

(Thor: Love and Thunder premieres in Philippine cinemas on July 6.)


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