Photo of Natalie Portman in Planetarium

Natalie Portman’s first ever film in French

  • Natalie Portman’s first ever film in French
  • Annabelle Fitzherbert
  • December 6, 2017

Do you miss Natalie Portman’s intensity in Black Swan?

If you do, then prepare for your psychological delusions to be answered with Planterarium. The third film from French director Rebecca Zlotowski (Grand Central), it features Portman (who learnt to speak fluent French for this film) and Lily-Rose Depp as American sisters touring 1930s Europe with their seeming ability to speak to the dead. Soon, they’ve enthralled a powerful French movie producer (played by Emmanuel Salinger), who hopes to harness their spiritual powers for the cinema but with dark consequences for the sisters….

Below is a snippet from a recent interview with SBS Movies and the star-studded actress herself, Natalie Portman. You can read the full interview here.

SBS Movies: Is she your first female director?

Natalie Portman: I’ve made shorts with female directors and it’s my first feature directed by a woman who is not me, because I directed my own film, A Tale of Love and Darkness. But it’s significant that in 25 years of making films that this is my first time being directed by a woman in a feature film. That affects the kinds of stories being told and presenting the female point of view, the female experience, which of course includes relationships between women, which is central to any woman’s existence but of course is invisible to the male imagination.

I’ve found it rare in films that I’ve acted in to even get to work with another actress. Often you’re the only female on the set, so it’s already a joy when you get to work with another woman and not be one of the boys, which is kind of what you get used to as an actress in the US.

Planetarium was also the first time I worked with someone I was close to before filming. I was already friends with Rebecca and there was a high level of trust. She knew exactly what to say to me, how to put me in exactly the right place.

SBS Movies: How did that change the way you worked?

Natalie Portman: She challenged me to be tougher than my instincts. She wanted the character to be tough which I felt was a great step for someone who started as a child actor as you can go into cute things very easily. (Portman debuted in Luc Besson’s 1994 film The Professional at the age of 13 and the following year appearing in Michael Mann’s Heat). Rebecca always encouraged me against that and showed me ways of directing that I’d never seen before. Sometimes she would have me say things to make the character more emotional; she had a very specific vision. It was really empowering seeing someone who had no hesitation saying exactly what she wanted.

SBS Movies: How was the dynamic between you and Lily-Rose, especially since she speaks perfect French?

Natalie Portman: I definitely I felt the whole time that Lily-Rose had to diminish her French level to match mine so we would be believable as sisters. But actually from the beginning it was very easy to take it on. She’s a delightful human being and incredibly talented. It’s exciting to see someone on one of their first films and you know there is so much ahead of them.

SBS Movies: Was there an advantage to being away from the Hollywood machine and making these films in France?

Natalie Portman: I feel that every movie is different. It was an amazing experience and very unique and there was this family feeling. It felt like everyone was there out of passion–but I’ve definitely felt that on American films before. I don’t think there’s a Hollywood/foreign film divide. I don’t think there’s a big budget/low budget divide. I don’t think there’s a male/female director divide. I think every project is individual and can surprise you.

Don’t miss Planetarium with Natalie Portman on World Movies on Wednesday 13 December 8.30pm.

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