Press: Natalie Portman on Why She Prefers to Play ‘Broken, Fallible, and Faulted’ Characters Over Admirable Ones — TIFF
Categories Films Interview Press Vox Lux

Press: Natalie Portman on Why She Prefers to Play ‘Broken, Fallible, and Faulted’ Characters Over Admirable Ones — TIFF

From “Vox Lux” to “Annihilation,” she doesn’t shy from challenging performances. Here, she explains why.

Natalie Portman shows up in the second half of “Vox Lux” like a hurricane, bursting into writer-director Brady Corbet’s mesmerizing portrait of self-absorbed pop star and overtaking the story. As Celeste, a beloved singer who survived a mass shooting in her youth and has been corrupted by fame, Portman embodies the sheer lunacy of modern popular culture.

At the Q&A for the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival, Portman described her performance as “this commodification of everything, where violence becomes something you sell, news becomes something you sell, even private life does.” She singled out a scandal in the movie’s plot that finds armed gunmen wearing masks from one of Celeste’s music videos in a terrorist attack. “What brings a terrorist and a pop star in alignment is that people paying attention to them makes them valuable and gives them power,” she said. “That kind of commodification and attention is what we’re living through right now. It’s our politics, it’s our culture.”

It’s heady, challenging material — and not an easy sell. “Vox Lux” is one of the few major TIFF titles to arrive at the festival (after its Venice premiere) without North American distribution, and whoever picks it up will face a unique marketing challenge with Portman’s dyspeptic character. Major buyers attended the premiere, but largely agreed that Portman’s name brought the movie its sole commercial hook.

At the afterparty, the actress told IndieWire that Celeste’s uneasy attributes drew her to the role, citing Gena Rowlands in John Cassavetes’ “Woman Under the Influence” and “Opening Night” as key reference points. “Those are some of my favorite performances,” she said. “Those are movies I really admire and I always feel like those are the easiest characters to relate to because they’re so human. The more broken, the more fallible, the more faulted the person is, the more I think I can relate to them.”

She added that she tends to stray from more likable types. “The hardest thing for me is characters you’re supposed to admire,” she said. “I don’t get it.” She laughed. “It doesn’t seem like a person to me,” she said. “I connect to someone who’s, like, having a hard time or not always the person they want to me, or messing up. That’s what feels human to me. It’s much more exciting for me to play.”

Her filmography bears this out. “Vox Lux” plays like a spiritual sequel to “Black Swan,” but the character’s psychological duress as she contends with the power at her disposal suggests aspects of “Jackie” as well.

Earlier this year, she starred in “Annihilation,” Alex Garland’s heady sci-fi thriller that put her at the center of a cryptic story where her motives were unclear throughout. The movie also faced tough commercial prospects: Paramount dumped the movie in theaters and sold international rights to Netflix. Portman shrugged off the potential risks of the two projects she’s tackled this year. “As an actor, you just start trying to help fulfill the director’s vision and really just try bringing everything you can creatively,” she said. “The rest is up to the business people. The most interesting thing for me is working with people who I feel push me creatively and intellectually, have great ideas, create a lot of freedom and the circumstances that you can really explore creatively.”

In “Vox Lux,” Portman upped her game from her “Black Swan” days with another dazzling onstage performance, this one requiring her to sing. Celeste’s music (actually original compositions by Sia) is unveiled at the close of the movie in dynamic stage performance that finds Portman dancing and belting out songs in a giant stadium. It’s the first time she’s carried a tune onscreen since Woody Allen’s musical “Everyone Says I Love You” in 1996, though she said of that movie, “I don’t really consider that one a singing role.” For “Vox Lux,” she underwent very little preparation. “I didn’t really prepare,” she said. “Brady wanted to show that you didn’t really have to be very good to be someone like this. I was like, ‘Shouldn’t I, like practice? Shouldn’t I perform?’ He was like, ‘Nope!’” She did receive some counseling from a vocal coach. “It was really very much like a production, with the sound producers doing their magic,” she said.

For the dance movies, she reunited with her husband, “Black Swan” choreographer Benjamin Millepied. “It was really fun because we got to prepare everything at home,” she said. As soon as the credits rolled on the movie, audiences started a guessing game to determine the real-life inspiration for Celeste’s character: Miley Cyrus? Lady Gaga? Portman declined to answer. “It’s definitely not based on one person,” she said. “There are little details taken from real people that I’m sure everyone will be able to intuit. I definitely stole little details that I found in different documentaries.”

The jarring performance matches a movie designed to keep audiences off balance. Corbet’s constant use of long takes propel viewers into a lively environment of tense backroom strategy sessions and unnerving arguments as Celeste clashes with everyone in her orbit. Portman said she loved the approach, used almost exclusively in her scenes.

“Long Steadicam takes are just the best as an actor,” she said at the Q&A. “We can just play. It’s not like little fragments. You kind of get to have the whole shape of a scene and go through it and try different things. …It felt very fun and alive in a way that’s very uncommon.” Corbet, standing by her said, chimed in. “Only really great actors love long takes,” he said.

Source: Indiewire

Press/Video: Natalie Portman Reveals Why ‘Vox Lux’ Is the Most Political Film She’s Ever Made
Categories Films Interview Press Videos Vox Lux

Press/Video: Natalie Portman Reveals Why ‘Vox Lux’ Is the Most Political Film She’s Ever Made

Natalie Portman’s “Vox Lux” dazzled critics at the Venice Film Festival and continues to draw crowds in Canada. At our Variety Studio presented by AT&T at the Toronto Film Festival, the actress joined co-star Jude Law and director Brady Corbet to discuss the darkness behind all the glitter and glam of “Vox Lux.”

After the Venice and TIFF premieres, Portman claimed that this was the most political film she’s ever made. The actress explained this statement to Variety exclusively.

“Brady’s writing was such an accurate portrait of our moment, like nothing I’ve seen,” she said. “Where it’s not any sort of political message, or anything like that, but it has such a, ‘This is the culture and the political situation that we’re living in where everything is for sale.’ And how much attention we pay something, whether it’s a pop star, or a terrorist attack, gives it its importance and gives it its value. How much you can sell it is what makes it important.”

Her character, Celeste, discovers fame at the age of 13, shortly after her school is attacked by a rogue shooter. The atrocity, and the song it inspired her to sing, rockets the young girl to stardom. Portman herself understands the glare of the early Hollywood spotlight, having starred alongside Jean Reno in the 1994 movie “Leon: The Professional.”

“It is a weird thing to have a public persona and a private persona so young,” Portman said. “Because you’re kind of aware of keeping those separate. And there’s a weird splitting of self, ‘This is what other people can know about me, this is what’s valuable for me to have just for myself,’ and that can be strange, but important to keep separate. Which, this character doesn’t really do.”

Source: Variety

Press: Natalie Portman rapped at her TIFF after-party last night
Categories Films Press Vox Lux

Press: Natalie Portman rapped at her TIFF after-party last night

Alright, alright, alright . Matthew McConaughey made quite the entrance last night at the RBC House for the premiere party toasting his latest TIFF offering, White Boy Rick . As he strutted into the room, in a way that only the Dazed and Confused star could, the energy immediately shifted to what can only be described as an uproar. Cameras flashing everywhere, people rushing at the invite-only event to get their snap and catch a sight, and boy, was it a sight to be had.

GALLERY: All the red-carpet fashion at TIFF 2018

Matthew wore a perfectly tailored burgundy Dolce & Gabbana suit and cozied up to his wife Camila Alves. Fellow cast members Richie Merritt, Bel Powley, RJ Cyler and Jonathan Majors were also all in attendance, as was rapper Joey Badass. I caught Matthew taking a call, clasping his phone with his heavily ringed fingers during the brief time that he was there (Perhaps a ghost call to deal with all the attention?)

Before the fever pitch of Matthew’s fete, I chatted with Jude Law at a late-afternoon cocktail hosted by Grey Goose vodka and Soho House Toronto to celebrate the North American premiere of Vox Lux, in which he reunites with his former Closer co-star Natalie Portman. In perhaps his most convincing role yet, the actor was so charming in our convo that he had me convinced his next role would be my husband. And unlike the stars who make quick cameos at their soirees, he enjoyed working the room, chatting and nibbling thin-crust pizza with Natalie before opening their circle to other attendees.

Natalie – who was wearing a sweet-as-can-be soft blush Dior couture gown – got her groove on as soon as the DJ started playing Cardi B. In a well-played move, he transitioned into “Natalie’s Rap 2.0” by The Lonely Island , a recurring SNL skit that sees the pint-sized star rap – and she couldn’t help but sing along and dance with her friends!

Meanwhile the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott were at the IT House x Producers Ball Gala presented by NKPR and Scott Brothers Entertainment, where they were mingling with producers, talent, directors and attendees. Newlywed Drew had wife Linda Phan by his side, and the brothers were quick to charm the selfie-snapping crowd by hamming it up with props from around the room (like a ping pong racket).

In what was no doubt the grandest event of the eve, Hugo Boss and Amazon Studios hosted a star-studded bash at Soho House Toronto for the cast of Beautiful Boy. All four floors of the house were in play for “it boy” Timothee Chalamet, Steve Carelland Amy Ryan, who were feted by fellow notables like Amber Heard, Armie Hammer and his wife Elizabeth Chambers, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Hari Nef, Joe Zee, Joel Edgerton, Maika Monroe, Pablo Schreiber (Yes, Lievs bro!) and Sam Taylor-Johnson. A room-stopping/you really had to be there moment occurred as former Call Me By Your Name co-stars Timothee and Armie joyfully reunited.

Before 22-year-old Timothee left, I caught him in another moment entirely: After being escorted down the stairs by a handful of security, he was taken to the closed front door of the house, where fans were waiting behind a barricade outside in great anticipation. I saw him take a deep breath as his body guard looked at him for approval, then Timothee gave the approving nod, the door was opened for him and flashes and screams erupted. Fade to black.

Source: Hello! Canada

Press: Toronto Film Festival Adds Natalie Portman Drama ‘Vox Lux’
Categories Films Press Vox Lux

Press: Toronto Film Festival Adds Natalie Portman Drama ‘Vox Lux’

The Toronto International Film Festival has added Brady Corbet’s drama “Vox Lux,” starring Natalie Portman and Jude Law, and Neil Jordan’s “Greta,” with Chloe Grace Moretz and Isabelle Huppert.

The festival also announced Tuesday a total of 46 titles in its Discovery program, which is devoted to up-and-coming filmmakers. The festival will screen 255 features and 88 shorts with 138 being world premieres, including “Greta.” The 43rd Toronto International Film Festival will begin on Sept. 6.

“Vox Lux” and “Greta” have been added to the Special Presentations program. “Vox Lux,” which will premiere at the Venice Film Festival, is a musical drama about a woman who achieves success after a tragic childhood. The film also stars Jennifer Ehle, Stacy Martin and Raffey Cassidy. “Greta” stars Moretz as a young woman in New York who befriends a widow, played by Huppert, who has sinister intentions.

The Discovery program includes Belgian director Lukas Dhont’s ‘Girl,” the story of a transgender teen; Adina Pintilie’s “Touch Me Not,” which won the Golden Bear and the best first feature award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival; and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s “Farming,” starring Kate Beckinsale.

The new additions:

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

“Greta,” Neil Jordan


“Vox Lux,” Brady Corbet

DISCOVERY

“aKasha,” Hajooj Kuka

“ANIARA,” Pella Kagerman and Hugo Lilja

“Blind Spot,” Tuva Novotny

“The Chambermaid,”Lila Aviles

“Complicity,” Darko Sante

“The Crossing,” Bai Xue (opening film)

“The Day I Lost My Shadow,” Soudade Kaadan

“The Dig,” Andy Tohill and Ryan Tohill

“An Elephant Sitting Still,” Hu Bo

“Emu Runner,” Imogen Thomas

“ENDZEIT – EVER AFTER,” Carolina Hellsgard

“The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste Garcia,” Arturo Infante

“Farming,” Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

“Fig Tree,” Aalam-Warqe Davidian

“Float Like a Butterfly,” Carmel Winters

“Girl,” Lukas Dhont

“Gwen,” William McGregor

“Helmet Heads,” Neto Villalobos

“Her Job,” Nikos Labot

“Icebox,” Daniel Sawka

“Jirga,” Benjamin Gilmour

“Light as Feathers,” Rosanne Pel

“Lionheart,” Genevieve Nnaji

“The Load,” Ognjen Glavonic

“Manta Ray,” Puttiphong Aroonpheng

“The Mercy of the Jungle,” Joel Karekezi

“Orange Days,” Arash Lahooti

“Our Body,” Han Ka-ram

“Parade,” Nino Zhvania

“Phoenix,” Camilla Strom Henriksen

“Rafiki,” Wanuri Kahiu

“Saf,” Ali Vatansever

“Screwdriver,” Bassam Jarbawi

“Summer Survivors,” Marija Kavtaradze

“Tel Aviv on Fire,” Sameh Zoabi

“The Third Wife,” Ash Mayfair

“Tito and the Birds,” Gustavo Steinberg, Gabriel Bitar, Andre Catoto

“Too Late to Die Young,” Dominga Sotomayor

“Touch Me Not,” Adina Pintilie

“Twin Flower, Laura Luchetti

“Woman at War,” Benedikt Erlingsson

Source: Variety