GARDEN STATE - Q&A with Natalie Portman
Movie Interview by Neils Hesse
It seems quite obvious that you were delighted to do this movie why?
Well I think that a movie like this has no pre-determined genre and too many movies today are simply copies of other films whereas this film is closer to what life is actually like.
Most young ladies tell a fib now and then, your character in the film has a tendency to lie, Have you ever lied?
I don't know why you say young ladies but anyway I do not have a tendency to lie.
What are the pleasures in doing a small movie over a big movie such as STAR WARS and are there certain things that you miss from either?
The best part of not having money for a film is that there is no wasted time or energy whereas when you have got loads of cash there is more time and this may break the momentum of the performance. Also when you have a big trailer nobody hangs out with one another so you never get to meet people but on a small movie like this one I got to meet so many interesting people who work in the industry and it was a good experience for me.
Considering the demands of big movies and those of small movies, does the one challenge the other?
Well they both have their own appeals, special effects are interesting but what I try to do is to mix it up, have a bit of both.
As you said earlier you got to spend more time with your fellow cast members, did this help in the rain scene where you all get soaking wet?
Yes one weekend Zach and Peter came to my [university] campus and we just went out and had to party, so we bonded quite well.
Did the homecoming element of the movie ring any bells for you considering your career in movies takes you away from home every now and then?
No, I have never left home for very long and I have been acting since I was 12.
Have you ever had a moment when you have met someone from your past whom you least wanted to meet?
Well, not that I didn't want to meet them again but rather someone whom I was not really bothered to see again. Also it is always embarrassing because everybody remembers my name but I may have forgotten theirs.
What was it like to work with Zach?
Well I wasn't nervous at all because he wasn't nervous. He was very relaxed and confident. He put us all at ease and was very collaborative. I would love to work with him again.
Was it hard to get yourself into the mindset of your character?
I have had friends in my life who experimented with drugs when times were hard, so it was not that hard to understand.
What is the best part of the film for you?
Well there were some very talented dogs that Zach arranged and those scenes were hilarious and he was also just constantly joking around.
The line where you mention Julia Roberts, did you know about that before you started making your new film [CLOSER] with her?
It was way before I started filming with Julia and I don't know whether she has seen it yet.
You do some pole dancing in your new film, was that to show a new side of yourself?
I do different things all the time it isn't a conscious decision to show a new side of myself namely my backside, for me I just think that it is a good film so I did it.
How did you get along with Ewan McGregor [STAR WARS]?
He is great and I totally love his wife, it says a lot about him that he could find such a great woman. He is very entertaining.
A lot of child performers do not successfully make the transition to adult acting, how did you do it?
I am not aware of what will happen tomorrow but I think that there are a lot of actors from my generation who have successfully crossed over, people like Kirsten Dunst, Christina Ricci, Anna Paquin they all started out when they were younger too.
In this film you give a very cute yet emotional performance, is it easier to do the emotional stuff in small movies like this or big ones like STAR WARS?
It is easier in this film because it is closer to my life than say playing a queen but still all movies present a challenge.
Ewan McGregor always talks about the joy he gets from playing with his light saber, do you get any kicks from working on STAR WARS?
I hope that light saber comment isn't a metaphor for something else, but yes it's cool to work on STAR WARS with all the green screens that eventually become spaceships and so on.
Do your film choices tend to lean towards films of a Jewish nature or content?
No, although in this film I could relate to certain things like when Zach's character talks about the temple and the moving walls that are opened when it is confession day to accommodate all the people who only go to temple on that day.
Why did you choose to go to university considering that your movie career was already good?
Well it was always something that I wanted to do even though I also wanted to be an actor and to do that successfully I think that you must be engaged in the world, knowledge and first hand experience adds to the imagination involved in acting.
Did you have to work harder in university to prove yourself?
Yes, academia, professors and stuff is its own bubble, so my celebrity status was not acknowledged at all. As for my peers well they initially wrote me off as being there simply because I was an actor so I had to watch my words and make sure I didn't say anything stupid, all that made me work hard.
Was it hard working with Zach in the sense that he was the writer, director and as such had a hold on it all?
Well he was an expert and it was helpful because he had the power to immediately change a line because he was also the writer so I think it was actually easier.
What is the last good book that you read?
The 'Known World' by Edmond Jones about black slave owners.
Do you ever read the trashy stuff?
Yes but I won't mention any names, because I don't wanna insult anyone who thinks that they have written great literature.
Do you feel that acting allows you to escape from your own issues by playing someone else?
No for me it is a way of practicing empathy and it is nice to play someone else but it is not a means of escaping anything. I have a good family and good friends.
Did working with and watching Zach direct make you want to direct as well?
Yes because he made it seem attainable, he is very confident and talented but his laid back approach made it seem easier to do. Having said that once when I was 12 in an interview I said that I wanted to be an astronaut and that never happened so I guess I should watch what I say.