Natalie Portman on Getting Swole for ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’
The Oscar winner discusses her transformation into the Mighty Thor.
We’re less than a month out from the premiere of Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder, the fourth chapter in the Norse god’s saga. The film will see the return of Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Natalie Portman, who makes her first appearance in the franchise since 2013’s Thor: The Dark World (her brief appearance in Avengers: Endgame was made with previously cut footage). Portman was always great as Dr. Jane Foster, but she was hemmed in (like most phase one female counterparts) by the “girlfriend” role. Love and Thunder changes that dynamic by imbuing Foster with her own superpowers, inspired by the 2014 Mighty Thor comic book run by Jason Aaron.
While women superheroes are getting more screen-time, they still lack the brawn of their male counterparts. Hollywood doesn’t seem interested in giving muscular women the same attention as men, likely do to standard beauty conventions and double standards, and the patriarchy as a whole. This debate most recently came up in response to the trailer for Disney+ series She-Hulk, which gave viewers a shockingly petite title character.
When the first photos of Portman dropped, fans swooned over the newly jacked Jane Foster. And honestly, how could you not? Portman spent over 10 months with a personal trainer to develop her physique for the role. She discussed her physical transformation in a new interview with Variety, saying “On Black Swan, I was asked to get as small as possible, … Here, I was asked to get as big as possible. That’s an amazing challenge — and also state of mind as a woman.” She responds the to internet’s collective crush, noting “To have this reaction and be seen as big, you realize, ‘Oh, this must be so different, to walk through the world like this,’ … When you’re small — and also, I think, because I started as a kid — a lot of times I feel young or little or, like, a pat-on-the-head kind of person. And I present myself that way, too, because of that.”
To make the 5’3″ Portman six feet tall, the production build elevated decks for Portman to walk on. “We’d rehearse the scene, they’d see the path, and then they’d build a path that was like one foot off the ground or whatever, and I would just walk on that,” Portman said. Tessa Thompson said that the decks became a running joke, “They would call it a deck, but depending on the accent, sometimes it sounded like something else, … Because we’re all children.”
Thompson lauded Portman for her work on equal pay and gender parity on set, saying “Natalie’s the kind of person who would call another female castmate and have transparency around what she’s making so that she can help someone also advocate for herself … That’s like real-world superhero shit that I have seen Natalie do time and time again.”
For Portman, a big part of returning to the role was her children. “I feel like it’s the phase of my career where I’m really trying to just impress my kids,” she says. “My 5-year-old and my 10-year-old were so enthralled by this process, getting to visit the set and see me dressed up in a cape. It made it really cool. You know, it’s very rare that my kids are like, ‘Please go to work!’ Usually, it’s quite the opposite.”
Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters on July 8.
(via Variety, featured image: Marvel)
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