Film & TV

Getting to Know Your Character

Natalie Portman

Lesson time 07:28 min

To fully embody a character, you first need to gain a thorough understanding of what makes them tick. Natalie teaches you how to dig for illuminating details, create a personal timeline, and analyze influential relationships.

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.

Portman combines a rich sensitivity with a finely honed practicality to deliver a thoughtful and nuanced approach to acting that can benefit anyone.

So far, I'm loving this class. Natalie gives great advice and puts it in a clear way. Great for students of all experience!

Natalie had a lot of great insights that I as an actor have not put as much thought as I should have into and that hasn't been completely emphasized enough in classes that I have taken. Even if its just one thing she has said (which there were plenty) that will change my approach, it was definately worth the investment. LOVE HER!-Devo

listening to someone who has already been in acting films and who has used different types of body language to portray her character is very remarkable and this class helped me realize that acting is where you can experience different roles but still be yourself at the same time.


A fellow student

Cool that I can see the whole volume of what emotions and contradictions the character can consist of. Big thanks for this video.

Stephanie S.

I am beyond excited to take this class from Natalie. I was a huge Star Wars fan growing up and that spurred me on to acting and to discover more of her work! I am hooked on this class already.

Jose C.

I can see that there are many facets to understanding your character. I wonder to what extent actors study psychology and understand personality from a scientific perspective. I would love to learn more about how she prepares for a character by studying people who live similar lives to those characters.

William M.

I wanna know how the hell she found those details from George Lucas'..... interesting writing


I took this class because I wanted to find out how actors approach their characters. I'm a songwriter and metal(head) guitarist but some of my lyrics evolve into possible storylines. So, drilling down and trying to making the characters as believable as possible. I've always respected Natalie Portman's roles and I hope to see how she approaches her craft and makes them real to keep moving the narrative forward.

Mary R.

Specificity through simplicity. Appreciated the easy to digest information. It allowed me to reflect on what things are in my processes of character development already and which ones could use some deepening.

Callie M.

I'm a writer, and I signed up for MasterClass to learn from authors. But these tips about getting to know your character apply equally to writing. On film, on the stage, or on paper, the better you know a character, the easier it is to make them believable and relatable.

Whitney P.

I love how she explains not judging your character, but I think maybe an add on to that would be also not judging other people around you. You can learn a lot about people and pick up characteristics by observing without judgement. This doesn't mean agreeing with everything they do, but simply understanding why people do what they do. Great Lesson!

Nowa C.

Great insight on developing your character through the relationships you have with the other characters and by developing unique qualities about your character that might not be explicitly laid out in the events of the script. It's all details I had initially thought I would need to do but never had anyone articulate it this way or even introduce and make an attempt to elaborate on these concepts so I didn't know if I was over complicating the craft and process of acting. But with insight, I feel so emboldened. Thank you Natalie.

Gabriela S.

I love how simple yet educational the lesson is. I feel like I can really resonate w Natalie and take what she says and make it my own at the same time.