Film & TV

Advice for Actors

Natalie Portman

Lesson time 08:03 min

Natalie gives advice for auditioning, staying inspired, being an advocate for the people you work with, and nourishing your artistic spirit.

Play
Natalie Portman
Teaches Acting
Oscar-winning actor Natalie Portman shares the techniques at the heart of her acting process—and teaches you how to tackle your next role.
Get All-Access

Make every role extraordinary

Natalie Portman began acting professionally at 12 and won an Oscar before she turned 30. As a self-taught actor, she uses personal techniques to create compelling, complex characters. In her first-ever acting class, Natalie shows how empathy is at the core of every great performance, how to bring real-life details into every role, and how to build your own creative process. Get ready for your breakout performance.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Loved it. Wish there were more sessions on set.

Very helpful and most importantly liked that a lot of the material derived from her personal work .

Natalie Portman is brilliant in this class. Its gratifying to see how she integrates real humanity into her art.

I learned how to bring humanity to a character, how to communicate with everyone involved on set, and ultimately the purpose of acting: to practice empathy and connect to other people in a kind and meaningful way.


Comments

Lydia P.

This lesson couldn't have come at a more perfect time. I have an audition tomorrow that feels a tad uninspiring, but I'd like the work. The script is interesting but my part in it would be very small. Finding the characters' own desire has skyrocketed my interest and reignited the passion that I have for this job. Instead of viewing this as yet another possibly bland role, I can't wait to get into the audition room and play. Thank you, Natalie!

Nowa C.

Finding creativity in small roles or roles that offend you is great advice. And keeping the well of your creative energies filled and replenished with "Artist Dates" is also priceless advice.

Pétainguy M.

Really humble and practical person, who can say that she did things not so interesting ... and ask for someone to go out because inappropriate. She is definitively my example !

Mia S.

"It's always important to be engaged with culture. I think being inspired all the time by other people's art - whether it's seeing other films, seeing theater, going to museums, going to concerts, listening to music - and then of course, other modes of creation that you do, whether you like to write, play music, paint - keeping that inspiration and creativity flowing is really important, and then also just of course, being a good person, trying to be a good person; listening to people, caring about people - not just to motivate your art, obviously to also be a good person. As an actor your job is empathy and you should be practicing empathy all the time. And as a person you should be practicing empathy all the time. So it's one and the same."

Mia S.

"You should be making sure that everyone around you is being treated correctly. For example, I just shot something where we had a group of extras, and there was one man who was being very aggressive with some of the female extras, and I took it upon myself to talk to the first AD to have this person spoken to. And then when he continued to behave that way, to have him removed from the environment, because when you do have a role as an actor, you have somewhat of a position of power on a set and you need to make sure that you can use it to help someone who might not be in a position to be like, 'Hey, I feel really uncomfortable.' Of course, you want to talk to whoever you're dealing with to see if it's OK with them for you to advocate for them because people can talk for themselves and everyone has their own voice. But usually, if you are in a position of power, they are grateful to have you speak up for them. Also sometimes you're working with kids or animals and you need to make sure that people who don't necessarily - or animals - that don't necessarily have the ability to speak for themselves are being treated in the correct way."

Mia S.

"As a woman, you have very different options and we've seen all of this sort of research about how many fewer roles there are for women - speaking roles; even in groups of extras, they tend to cast a vast majority more men; even one-line roles in films are usually men. And of course, for women of color, it's much more of a problem. There's much fewer roles for women of color - speaking roles, and also extras. So this is really a big issue, and then when there's those fewer roles, the roles tend to be very much the same kind of tropes: the nagging wife, the hot girl at the bar, the bitchy ex-girlfriend, the slutty girl in class, or the annoying mother. It's hard to find things that are meaningful creatively. When you have the luxury of choosing, you're still choosing between things that might be offensive to you or a lot of the same kind of things. Most people don't have the luxury of choosing. So I think you want to always do things that you can feel proud of, and if you don't have the choice of what you want to work on and you just need to take the job because - I mean, we all have to eat - then you need to find your way of being creative with it, that if you're supposed to just play the supportive, bland girlfriend, that you're going to make something that's a little bit more like a person, and an interesting person. And it all comes down to desire. Once we express our desire, we are a human being and it's not about other people desiring us, it's not about being the object of a male gaze, of someone else's desires of what they need us to be for them - but what we want to be. What we want to project into the world. And even just putting that thought of desire in your eyes, behind your eyes while you're acting, I think, is already a first step to just making your character human in a way that isn't - that no one else is going to slap you on the wrist for. Obviously, if you have the choice to stay away from certain kinds of parts, the luxury of that, then that's great, and I've had some of that luxury of being able to kind of choose not to do certain things that were offensive to me or that felt uncomfortable to me. I've also had periods of time where I needed to work and I've done things that I didn't feel good about. I had to find my small ways of rebelling against, within it."

Mia S.

"When auditioning, there are a few things that I think are helpful. One is something that I thought was really embarrassing when I was a kid. They would tell you to kind of dress in-character or look in-character, and I always kind of rolled my eyes about it, because I thought that was embarrassing and presumptuous, almost, to show up in like a 40s dress or something. But when I was directing and choosing my actors, it helped so much to just kind of see people as the part already. And sometimes someone would come in and you'd just be like, 'You don't even have to do anything, they're ready to shoot.' And it helps your imagination, so it's not a bad idea. I wouldn't go overboard - I wouldn't go spend money that you don't have getting a costume for something. But if you can fix your hair a certain way; if you're auditioning for a period film, not wear your nose ring. It's going to help the director imagine you in the role. The thing a director wants to see most is that they can direct you - that they can get a different performance by what they tell you. So if you get feedback, try and really listen and do it differently, not be stuck in one way of doing it. Otherwise, just to be direct - look people in the eyes - and kind. You want to be kind to your fellow actors who are in the waiting room with you, kind to the people you meet, and respectful. It's important for everyone to know that when you come in, you're going to be professional, on time, and prepared and a kind person to work with, because you'd be surprised how many people come in - whether it's their insecurity or whatever that makes them be a little abrasive and it's just not helpful, of course."

Kristine K.

It was nice that Natalie spoke about the roles for women...she is so right about the same roles they give out. The slutty girl at the bar, the mom, the best friend etc. Ugh so frustrating. I like that she mentioned animals because this has been a problem with animals being abused on sets. Also how she is empathetic to other actors on the set. Thank you Natalie you are a very nice person!

Matthew B.

I have gone through each lesson twice now and have collected alot of the materials suggested by Natalie, so will continue to work on for a few more months, watching the Films, Reading the Articles, Doing the Assignments over and over. If anyone else who is also taking this class might want to get together for a day of 2 to work on together ?? my contact info is on IMDB Pro Feel like I got my $180 worth already but gonna take a few more classes. Love the flexibility of this Platform.

ALICIA S.

I am ready for a good role. I desire to be a successful film actress 🥺☹️😞😎🤓😛🙂💕