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Arts & Entertainment

Case Study: “Black Swan”

Natalie Portman

Lesson time 07:28 min

In this case study, Natalie reveals how she prepared for her role in “Black Swan” as a ballerina losing her grip on reality, which included training with a ballet instructor for months.

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.
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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.


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

Natalie Portman gave me a great overview of the creative process of acting and I am inspired!

I wish there was more demo material, where they show and not tell. But overall brilliant content!

It was very pleasant and useful but I also think that more videos with Natalie Portman in action could make it even better.

Natalie Portman has given me insights to what goes on in an Actor's mind which can hopefully help me Direct better.


A fellow student

Having to develop the two dimensions of the dancer, having to train as a ballerina and remain safe, matching the voice with the child or woman, communicating with the director one's needs...lots to do to bring to the performance.

Nicholas A.

This is my favorite lesson from this class! It's so interesting to have been given some information on Natalie's performance and the making of this film that I enjoy.

Aldo Piero

I really like Natalie, but I excpected more, this brings nothing new, it's kind of boring so far

Michael P.

This one really hit me - I have done so much Television in which you are a day player on set for one day only and you just don't have the time to prepare. But hearing this gives me keys to absorb that I can take with me that can allow me to even if only for 5-10 minutes make decisions physically which will allow me to feel an even greater sense of the character.

Zurielketa J.

I admire her soo much, all the cast studies are amazingly refreshing HOWEVER, Black Swan omg I can relate to her explanation of the two selves. I guess that's why I actually relate to that movie not as a dancer at all, but as that little girl morphing into the woman. The fight and exploration of that movie is a major reflection!

Shunda G.

With basking yourself into the world of the character I'm always curious about how deep into study can you go. especially if it's a small role. will be reenacting a drug addict. when is it ok to go into the field, or talk with people, go visit rehabs? I guess these questions are apart of learning and trying new things and allowing myself to step out and explore. Great insight Natalie

Inge V.

- “Natalie worked with her trainer for a year prior to shooting, during which time she gleaned insight into her character’s world and day-to-day life.” It is important to really get to know what your character’s everyday life is like. - “It’s important to be in dialogue with the director about not going too far in very physical roles. Know your stopping point and take care of yourself.” - “Developing physicality is an extremely important tool, because it allows you to maximize your character’s specificity.” The training and spending time in your character’s world, informs the mindset of the character.

Michael P.

Her Black Swan dancing double deserves more credit. When you CGI your face onto someone else's body, that isn't really acting.


Great lesson, I loved getting to see the thought process of Nina's two sides. On that note I may have noticed a typo in the handbook, not sure if it's been pointed out but " a young ballet dancer who has who sides" is that meant to be 'two'?.

Dax A.

This is a good lesson because it reminds me that we should also be re-watching black swan, Natalie Portman took her acting to a new level when she performed in it.