JACKIE is a searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman). JACKIE places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband's assassination. Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a psychological portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to maintain her husband’s legacy and the world of "Camelot" that they created and loved so well.
JACKIE is a Fox Searchlight Pictures and LD Entertainment Presentation, in association with Wild Bunch, Fabula, Why Not Productions, Bliss Media and Endemol Shine Studios and is a Protozoa production. JACKIE is directed by Pablo Larraín and written by Noah Oppenheim. The film stars Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Richard E. Grant, Caspar Phillipson, John Carroll Lynch, Beth Grant, Max Casella with Billy Crudup and John Hurt.
The producers are Juan de Dios Larraín, Darren Aronofsky, Mickey Liddell, Scott Franklin and Ari Handel. Executive producers are Pete Shilaimon, Jennifer Monroe, Jayne Hong, Josh Stern, Wei Han, Qi Lin, Martine Cassinelli, Charlie Corwin, and Howard Owens. The filmmaking team includes casting by Lindsay Graham, Mary Vernieu, and Mathilde Snodgrass, director of photography Stéphane Fontaine, A.F.C., production designer Jean Rabasse, A.D.C., costume designer Madeline Fontaine, A.F.C.C.A., editor Sebastián Sepulveda, and with music composed by Mica Levi.
JACKIE is a searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy
(Natalie Portman). JACKIE places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband's assassination. Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a psychological portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to establish her husband’s legacy and the world of
"Camelot" that she created and loved so well.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
“We all know the story of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. But what happens if we focus only on Jackie? What was it like during those next three days, drowning in grief, her and her children’s lives changed forever with the eyes of the entire world upon her? Jackie was a queen without a crown, who lost both her throne and her husband ….” — Pablo Larraín, September 2016
JACKIE takes audiences on a personal journey into one of the most extraordinary events of American history – and also into a deeply stirring drama that illuminates in fascinating new ways the woman, the times and the ways we cope with and tell the stories of the most intensely public of tragedies.
At the start of November 22nd, 1963, Jacqueline Kennedy was among the most famed, admired and envied figures in the world. As the elegant, stylish and alluring wife of the youngest-ever elected President of the United States, she was also the first First Lady of the televised age… photogenic, captivating and yet barely-known beneath her near-mythical image of grace, youth and idealism.
Yet, within hours, Jackie’s world, along with the faith of the nation, would be shaken from their foundations when John F. Kennedy was struck down by assassin’s bullets while riding at Jackie’s side in a motorcade parade through Dallas. In a moment rife with confusion and shock, the world witnessed the First Lady’s composed grief in images that remain as poignant and mesmerizing as ever. But what no one saw is what went on behind closed doors in Jackie’s private, tightly-contained world. Suddenly alone, save for her family, confidante and priest, the First Lady faced a remarkable series of challenges as a wife, a mother and a reluctant part of the political machine: consoling her young children, planning her husband’s funeral, preparing for the next President to rapidly move into the White House and most remarkably, fighting to maintain control over how history would forever define her husband’s legacy.
JACKIE unites award-winning director Pablo Larraín (NERUDA, NO) with Academy Award®-winning actress Natalie Portman as they re-imagine the private side of one of the most profound moments of the 20th Century. Larraín gives a boldly unconventional spin to the biopic genre, mixing historical footage with complete fictional re-creations, and excavating just one critical moment in Jackie’s life, but in all its intricately woven layers. Meanwhile, Portman explores the haunting territory of a woman juggling her incomprehensibly vast yet contained sorrow with a world watching, remembering and making meaning out of her every move. The result is an intimate portrait, yet one of epic themes, that provides a portrait of Jackie as we’ve not seen her: a deeply human, vulnerable woman confronted at once with the power of loss, love, self-preservation, public consciousness and history.
A RISKY SCREENPLAY, A DARING DIRECTOR, AN INCANDESCENT ACTRESS
Jackie Kennedy led a multi-faceted life of power and influence, but when it came to writing about her, screenwriter and journalist Noah Oppenheim came to feel there was one story that spoke to her psyche in the most compelling way – the very brief but remarkably consequential days that the First Lady spent nearly alone in the White House following her husband’s death.
In a period of just a week, this fiercely private woman had to face unthinkable personal loss, hard political realities, a nation in the throes of a collective trauma and — amid all the uncertainty, Washington machinery and public scrutiny — the responsibility of keeping alive all that her husband wanted to stand for in America. Though today he is among the most beloved of U.S. Presidents, JFK’s legacy was hardly assured upon his death. He had spent just 2 years and 9 months in office, and the fear among those closest to him was that all he aimed for would be forgotten because the potential had gone unfulfilled. In the midst of her own anguish, Jackie steeled herself with a single-minded mission: to tell her husband’s story in a way that it would always be remembered, as brief but shining moment of American promise.
That week was a period of time, felt Oppenheim, that defined not only the icon Jackie would become but the beginnings of our image-saturated culture in ways that haven’t really been explored.
“Like so many women in history, Jackie has never really gotten her proper due. She’s been portrayed mainly for her style and elegance, but she deserves more
credit for her exceptional understanding of image, public relations and really creating the idea of Camelot after JFK’s death,” says Oppenheim. “When I read about that single week in 1963 — when she had to console two grief-stricken children, deal with moving out of what was really her only home, contemplate a whole different life moving forward, and at the same time had one last shot to solidify her husband's legacy — it was extraordinary. I couldn’t imagine a more revealing moment to explore one of the most interesting women of the last century.”
Oppenheim cut his teeth in the world of news and politics, serving as Senior Vice President of NBC News — where he often talked about Kennedy’s impact with
fellow journalist and Kennedy biographer Chris Matthews — and a senior producer of the “Today Show.” He’s also the co-author of the bestseller The Intellectual Devotional: American History, a compendium of wisdom from American historical
figures. Naturally, he dove with relish into the research, poring through the endless archives amassed about the Kennedy family and the short-lived but endlessly influential administration.
But research could only take him so far in his efforts to recreate the voice, personality and often-obscured emotions of Jackie.
“The blessing of writing about someone like Jackie is that there’s an overwhelming amount of information about who she was, how she behaved, the timeline of her life,” he admits. “This preponderance of information about her life enabled me to root her in reality, but it also provided me an opportunity to ask questions and use my imagination to fully breath life into her on the page. Because I had this wealth of research, I was freed creatively and was able to dig deeper and explore her beyond the bounds of the facts I was able to ground her in.”
As he researched and wrote, Oppenheim felt very strongly that he was writing a story not of the past, but one that resonates fully with today’s world — a story about a woman who in many ways was the first in Presidential history to forge the idea of leaving behind a visual legacy that lives forever.
“Jackie Kennedy’s story speaks to us today for several reasons,” says Oppenheim. “For one thing, it harkens back to a time when politics had a certain dignity to it, when we all admired the people who occupied the White House. I also think Jackie was sort of the first American queen, someone who showed us what it is to have the noblest grace under fire. And I think this is a time when people are desperately trying to cut through the fog surrounding what’s true and what’s not in our world — so it is a ripe time to explore how public figures craft their images and create mythologies around themselves.”
Oppenheim’s intellectually probing yet starkly emotional script, so different from anything that had ever been penned about Jackie Kennedy, ended up on the famous “Black List” of the best as-yet unproduced screenplays and launched his screenwriting career. Spielberg courted the script for a while. Another filmmaker drawn to it was Darren Aronofsky, the iconoclastic and adventurous director whose films include BLACK SWAN, THE WRESTLER and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. At first, Aronofsky considered directing it himself. But ultimately, it was Aronofsky who brought the film to director Pablo Larraín and to Natalie Portman, with whom he’d had a highly creative rapport on BLACK SWAN — with Aronofsky coming aboard as producer with his company Protozoa Pictures.
Says Aronofsky of his reaction to JACKIE: “It was such an interesting project to undertake. I think it can be very important to recognize that even the icons we most look up to are actually human. It doesn’t weaken them to explore not only their courage and strength but also their fears and self-doubts. I think, ultimately, that makes someone like Jackie Kennedy even more real and more powerful.”
Aronofsky was still mulling what direction to take the material when he saw Pablo Larraín’s film THE CLUB, a riveting drama set in a secret retirement home for troubled Catholic priests. It felt like fate. Larraín’s distinctively energetic filmmaking style and deft ability to swirl character, emotion and political insight into an affecting narrative seemed a great match for Oppenheim’s probing of Jackie Kennedy after the assassination. “THE CLUB was just a very impressive film. It was extremely moving, yet it took you into a different world and introduced you to characters you never expected to empathize with,” Aronofsky explains. “After seeing it, I was convinced Pablo could probably do anything.”
The Chilean director had just one condition: he would only do it if Natalie Portman would agree to play Jackie. Aronofsky agreed she was the sole choice. “You wonder if anyone could play Jackie — she is so iconic a figure,” says Aronofsky. “But somehow Natalie makes you forget you are watching Natalie. Somehow through her magic and voodoo, she can disappear into any role.”
Larraín is perhaps best known for his Academy Award®-nominated, Chilean film NO, an upbeat political thriller starring Gabriel Garcia Bernal in the true story of a group of marketing mavericks who undid a dictator in the national referendum to oust General Augusto Pinochet from power. This year, he also has another groundbreaking biopic, NERUDA, about the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet.
The fact that Larraín is Chilean – a country with its own complicated and sometimes tragic political history — did not worry Aronofsky. On the contrary. “Sometimes the most interesting stories are told by someone who can see with fresh eyes,”
Aronofsky notes. “Also Pablo has a rare ability to focus on characters who might not be easy to get close to, yet he makes you feel very deeply for them – and that is what made him such an interesting connection with JACKIE.”
Natalie Portman felt similarly. “I think one of the many exciting things about working with Pablo was that he didn't have that sort of reverence that Americans have for the Kennedys,” says Portman. “He was able to approach the film in a less orthodox way, and with intense, uninhibited feeling. He took the project in a completely unexpected and visionary direction.”
Noah Oppenheim was immediately impressed by Larraín. “Working with Pablo has been an incredibly gratifying collaboration,” Oppenheim states. He brought a really unique point of view to the material and he challenged me to push further in terms of exploring Jackie’s humanity and the contradictory sides to her personality. The script just kept getting better and better as we worked together.”
As soon as he took it on, Larraín brought in his own original ideas of how to approach and shoot JACKIE. He always saw the film as a multitude of Jackie’s innermost narratives, a series of moments and impressions that, like the fragments of a kaleidoscope, combine to create a more beautifully complex picture. He also envisioned an almost achingly intimate camera style bringing a subjective rawness that has certainly never been seen in the White House setting before — a style that becomes part of Portman’s both carefully calibrated and openly exposed performance.
That intimacy also meant Larraín felt he had to get to know the private Jackie in his own mind and heart. He realized, like most people, he knew little of who she was beyond the profuse imagery we’ve all seen of a charming First Lady and stoic widow. He wanted to crack open her gilded image and look for starker truths. As he searched, he was more and more moved by Jackie’s compassion, her care for not only for her children but for her husband’s legacy and for the nation’s battered psyche.
“In the beginning all that I knew about Jackie was really quite superficial,”
Larraín notes. “I knew her as the woman always seen in pictures next to JFK, the woman known for her fashion, taste and style. I think that’s how most people know her in America and around the world. But I wanted to change up that point-ofview and dig further. The more I looked, the more I found a woman who was very sophisticated, very smart and who had an incredible political sense of her own. Most importantly, she was a woman who understood communication in a way very few people did in those times.”
Larraín also became fascinated, and moved, by the way Jackie allowed herself to become a kind of conduit for the public’s collective feelings of anguish and doubt in the wake of the only Presidential assassination of the 20th Century. “The United Stated never has had royalty and yet in that moment, Jackie became like a queen without a throne, a mother to a nation in mourning,” the director observes. “She shouldered all their sorrow and pain even as she was enduring so much grief and shock herself. She put it all on her back and she pushed on. She couldn’t have planned for these events, yet when the moment came, she carried herself with such grace and extraordinary love.”
During that turbulent week, Jackie unwittingly built a reputation as someone as courageous and beloved as her husband, planning his funeral to become a strikingly grand national catharsis. “That was not her intention — to make herself an icon,” observes Larraín. “But in trying to protect her husband’s legacy, she became one. There was a gap between her objective and the actual result which is one of many things I found interesting to explore in this story.”
Larraín was also compelled by the idea of mixing and matching historic events that are well documented — the Dallas motorcade, Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in to the Presidency on Air Force One, JFK’s grand state funeral and final burial in Arlington National Cemetery beside an eternal flame — with the moments no one can ever document and can only be daringly imagined. It was Larraín’s idea to incorporate the 1962 television show, “A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy” — broadcast on Valentine’s Day and seen by over 56 million viewers — into the narrative. Taking unprecedented advantage of television’s new Golden Age, Jackie had invited America and the world into the newly renovated White House in a way that was both public and personal, and in a way that seemed to form a bookend with her more somber public appearances after JFK’s death.
“When I saw the White House tour, I couldn’t stop watching it,” says Larraín. “It said so much about Jackie and who she would become. I knew we had to add it to the film. She hadn’t been on television before in that way, and it wasn’t something she enjoyed but Jack encouraged her to do it — in part because she’d been wrongly criticized for spending tax payer dollars on the renovation, even though it was done with private funding. Yet, she was amazing, giving the tour in such a compelling way.”
Indeed, Jackie emphasized in her presentation that she felt the White House should not be thought of merely as the home and workplace of the President, but
as a showcase for American history, art culture, and a place of national pride.
There was also an eerie moment that shook Larraín during the tour. “Suddenly, when Jackie is in the Lincoln bedroom, she starts to talk about what happened to Lincoln’s widow after he was killed,” the director recalls. “In a very strange way, it almost feels likes a premonition of what would happen to her. It seemed very important to me to include that moment, a sign of the weight she felt inside her.”
Larraín also wanted to make sure the film accurately showed that it was Jackie who first connected the Kennedy administration with Camelot – the mythical kingdom ruled by King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table based on the highest of human principles.
Today, Camelot is often used to refer to Kennedy’s entire tenure as President. But it was actually Jackie who introduced the idea after Kennedy’s death — her Life magazine interview inspired the interview depicted in the film. In the interview, Jackie spoke of her husband’s love of the 1960 Lerner and Loewe musical entitled “Camelot,” and especially the lyric: “Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.” That brief shining moment became a powe ful descriptor of Kennedy’s sudden loss that reverberated. Said Jackie in the interview: “There will be great presidents again, but there will never be another Camelot.”
“I didn’t really have a personal connection to the idea of Camelot until I explored more about it,” says Larraín. “I went back and listened to the words of the musical. When I got it, I was very moved, and I thought it was brilliant that Jackie was the one who linked that legend with her husband.”
As production moved forward a skilled producing team joined with Aronofsky. Aronofsky’s long-time producers Scott Franklin (BLACK SWAN, THE WRESTLER,
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM) and Ari Handel (NOAH, BLACK SWAN, THE WRESTLER) joined in. Both were magnetized to the material. Says Franklin: “This was such a different and refreshing take on a topic you think you’ve seen
before. What drew me is the material being so personal and really about a woman’s journey as opposed to the more typical perspective you get on historical events.
And we knew that Pablo and Natalie could peel back the layers and really bring you into that personal story in a way no one else could.”
Handel agrees that the film breaks fresh ground, re-envisioning the biopic. “I’m hoping the film allows people to let go of some of their conceptions about what a biopic is and should be. Pablo takes you on a different kind of trip, exploring a wider range of emotions,” comments Handel.
Producer Mickey Liddell (THE GREY) of LD Entertainment helped to make sure production ran smoothly so that Larraín, the production team and the cast could do their best work. It was truly a labor of love for Liddell who came aboard with passion. “I got on the phone with Pablo, and we talked for a long time, and I decided that we wanted to be involved in it. We were literally finishing each other’s sentences. I was excited about everything in the script that he was excited about. Also for me, it was the idea of doing a historical drama from a new perspective, revisiting something that you think you are already familiar with. I think Pablo was really fascinated with the story as a political one, and in his country a lot of things
similar to this have happened. So he really, really related to that,” says Liddell.
Larraín also brought on his long-time producing partner and brother Juan de Dios Larraín who, as always, was intimately involved in every aspect of the production. “We're brothers, we're partners, we're friends,” says de Dios Larraín. “Pablo always has a vision in his mind, but sometimes it reveals itself in the filming process and I’ve worked with him long enough to help establish the best environment in production for that to happen organically.”
NATALIE PORTMAN ON LIFTING THE VEIL FROM A MAJOR AMERICAN ICON
The centerpiece of JACKIE is Natalie Portman’s haunting, emotionally naked performance which gives the audience unusual access into Jackie Kennedy’s inner psyche in some of her most volatile, fragile, reflective and savvy moments. It is a performance filled with tiny, honest human details that underlie even the most imposing and carefully composed of public images.
A role unlike any other, it is also one any actor would approach with serious trepidation. After all, Jackie Kennedy has long been high on lists of the Most
Admired American Women of all time. Following in the tradition of Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt, she was a First Lady who seemed to capture the spirit of the times — but Jackie also stood apart. Her contradictions were scintillating. With her degree in French literature she had an aristocratic, scholarly side, but she also had an unerring popularity and trend-setting sense of style. She carried herself with a shy, traditionalism, but with her cool self-possession she also seemed to mesh with the growing new TV culture. Just 31 when John F. Kennedy was sworn in, she was so young and seemingly so much an emblem of a change-driven, hopeful new world, it was impossible to imagine her as a widow.
And yet, Jackie was the one who left the White House alone, her children left fatherless. She had one final motivation that kept her standing in those final days. Ragged as her heart was, she relied on her ironclad will to shape her husband’s
legacy in a way that it could never come undone. She modeled his processional funeral after Abraham Lincoln’s, insisted he be buried at Arlington National
Cemetery and ensured the gravesite would have an eternal flame, modeled after the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris. These decisions became not only part of his legacy, but also Jackie’s lasting legacy, establishing her as the quintessential symbol of dignity and resolve in the face of the most extreme circumstances. For Pablo Larraín, there was no one who could embody that time in Jackie
Kennedy’s life better than Portman. It wasn’t the obvious choice from a physical standpoint. The two women are not look-alikes by any means. But there was something under the skin that was spot-on for Larraín.
“Natalie has something that is essential in acting and performing which is mystery,” Larraín says. “And if there's any woman I would consider the most mysterious in the last century, it's Jackie Kennedy. Natalie also has a similar elegance, sophistication, intelligence and artistic sensibility to Jackie. But most important to me was that sense of mystery. Natalie is someone who has so much going on when you look at her — and that’s cinema to me. Jackie could be played entirely on the surface but I knew Natalie would instead go very deep. She shows you a woman bleeding inside yet who holds it all back, who holds all the suffering of the nation within her in a way you can feel.”
Portman’s filmography has been punctuated by a series of brave and nuanced performances — including her 2010 Best Actress winning performance as a tormented ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s BLACK SWAN, her Golden Globe winning and Oscar®-nominated role in Mike Nichols’ screen adaptation of the play CLOSER, and the royal role of Padme Amidala in the STAR WARS series.
She knew this role would be her greatest challenge — and a heavy responsibility given the realities of Kennedy’s life and place in history. But Portman had instant
faith in the script. She was attracted to the idea that what was going on inside
Jackie was so much more than was ever seen in the public eye; that she was a woman whose profound understanding of what lasts and what matters most anchored her in solid steel when she would have been forgiven for falling to pieces.
“I thought Noah Oppenheim’s approach in the script was really smart — he took this one short piece of Jackie’s life, this incredibly traumatic event, and excavated it for how Jackie composed herself in front of the world while dealing with everything that was happening to her privately,” says Portman. “We’ve mostly known Jackie as an almost unapproachable icon, as someone we’ve seen as a facade, not ever as a real human, so I love that this story gives you new insight into her humanity.”
To give audiences that fresh insight into a woman renown for her stoicism, Portman had to plunge into two twined sides of Jackie: the masked and the unmasked, each with its own challenges. “Jackie was not very forthcoming about her emotions, so I really explored that idea with Pablo,” Portman says. “We both were completely open to trying anything the other brought up. It was exciting because there was no wall put up as to what was the right way to approach her. It was really a path of discovery for me, because it’s such an unimaginably horrific situation Jackie went through — and there were so many different reactions that were possible and human.”
But amid her despair, Jackie found a sense of purpose: ensuring JFK would be an undying symbol of high-minded American values. “Because she was also a scholar and lover of history, I think Jackie understood that the story you tell about a life is what is most important, because it’s what people will keep telling for all time. I found it really fascinating that during this time she was both trying to control her husband’s story and also kind of getting lost in it as a way to navigate her grief,” Portman observes.
Portman’s preparation was intense. She availed herself of countless articles, biographies and newsreel footage, including several enlightening documents and tapes released after Jackie’s death. But she knew ultimately she’d have to step out onto the high wire and make the role her own.
“It was really scary taking on such a well-known figure because of course people know so well what Jackie looked like, how she spoke and how she moved,” confesses Portman. “On the other hand, there were a lot of resources to pull from so I had hundreds of hours of video footage of audio tapes and transcripts of interview and biographies so I could soak it all in.”
Jackie gave two interviews after her husband’s death — one to Life magazine and the other to historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., who recorded 8 hours with her. After that, she would never publically speak of this period of time again. Some of the interview transcripts, however, were heavily redacted by Jackie herself, leading Portman to wonder what it was that Jackie wanted to keep hidden, and why. That inquiry into her heavy-handed editing habits became an important element in Portman’s portrayal.
Portman says, “It helped me to look carefully at the gaps in information. What was deleted and why? Did she say too much? Knowing there were gaps also gave me a feeling of freedom that we could imagine those moments that no one has
any actual knowledge of from the time.”
For Portman, there was also an understanding of what life can be like in glare of the public spotlight. Jackie told Life magazine that grieving along with the nation did not lessen her pain, but magnified it. “She had to find a public grace in the most difficult moment a person has,” Portman says.
One challenge that loomed for Portman as she prepared was Jackie Kennedy’s highly distinctive dialect, impeccable diction and whispery voice. “She had such an amazing voice,” Portman muses. “It was truly from another era. She had a finishing school sort of way of presenting yourself — very demure, where you bat your eyelashes and speak in a breathy voice. Her accent was posh but also mixed with a real New York accent and also a little British. Her dialect is an unusual
combination of sounds that were completely unique to her. The first time I did it on set, I think Pablo was terrified,” Portman recalls.
Ultimately, everyone on set was awed by how Portman seemed almost consumed by Jackie’s essence. Says Mickey Liddell: “At that very moment she truly was
Jackie Kennedy. It was clear how much she studied, how much she read and how much she prepared, there was not ever a false moment.”
Some of Portman’s most memorable scenes come when Jackie is completely alone, allowing her to explore how Jackie comported herself when she didn’t have to think about the public watching. “I think you see people being most themselves when they're alone because they're not having to put on a face for anyone,” she says. “That’s especially true for Jackie who obviously had to pretend to be so many different things at different times. In those moments alone, you hopefully get a sense of her true self.”
One especially stormy and evocative scene for Portman comes as a fictional moment — as Jackie listens to a recording of “Camelot,” while roaming the White House, desperately trying on a series of gowns and dresses, none of which seems to express what she wants in this moment, when all her instincts are to unravel, yet she must continue with her façade some way and somehow.
Larraín says of the scene, “You have the most stylish woman in the world not knowing how to dress because suddenly, she didn’t know exactly who she was. Our thought was that she would just keep trying dresses, and with Natalie, it ended up
as a beautiful, sad metaphor of an internal crisis of identity.”
Because almost the entire film is shot in the closest of close-ups, Portman had an especially creative relationship with cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine, who became her shadow. The two had to work as a combined unit, like two dancers in a very complex pas de deux. “I feel that so much of the performance was enhanced by the way it all works in synch with Stéphane’s camera,” Portman comments. “The choices Stéphane made have a really big emotional impact.”
She continues: “A lot of what we did together was improvisational. I would be moving around and he would also have to, in the moment, decide where to go as I did. It was exciting and the camera was always so close that I had to sort of feel it was just a part of me.”
Says Pablo Larraín of how Portman and Fontaine worked in an inventive union: “Natalie had no fear and it really did feel like they were a couple dancing at times. They were just always together, everywhere, and Natalie was giving so much that we didn’t even need very many takes. I would say one-third of this movie was made in one single take. She and Stéphane were so connected that I would sometimes see them on the monitor and feel that they were in flight together.”
Larraín told Portman to think of each scene as its own. The scenes could be edited together in any order. That terrified her as an actress as you are always looking for your character’s arc. Where they have been and where they are going. This kept her on edge and brought a different level to her performance.
For Portman, the hope of committing as fully and fearlessly as she did was to find the part of Jackie that still resonates with us now. “I think every individual will have their own experience of who Jackie is,” she concludes.
“But the one thing I truly hope is that you see someone who is not just an icon but a very human, complex woman who found her own way through a situation few of us could imagine.”
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