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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.

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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.



Reviews

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

Natalies approach to acting is so full of humility. She gives amazing advice, very practical, inspiring and, empowering. Thank you!

To not be so self conscious and worry what people are thinking of me all the time. As an actor you can't be that self absorbed about all these other distractions. I don't plan on becoming an actor though. Still an author and journalist but i just wanted to see how the other side lives. I think Natalie is a wonderful WUNDERBAR (German) actress.

I have genuinely never loved noting down knowledge and really taking in advice ever in my life until now! This class really helped me learn to continue to be creative and play a character by using my inventions and tricks.

I loved watching and taking notes on this as I went through my semester of acting at school! Really helpful and inspiring.


Comments

A fellow student

I love the idea of looking into the characters psychology and really what makes them tick and especially what their desire is. I agree that as actors we need to focus on the hidden smaller details to figure out how to best portray a character. I think it's great how in depth into her character she goes and I really appreciate all the tips and advice she gives us on how to go deep into the characters ourselves. I am very glad I am taking this class. One lesson in and already incredibly informative and helpful!

Denise

Has anyone been able to find the article about "scoring your script" that is referenced in the workbook? The link doesn't work.

Márcia A.

I loved this lesson, currently loving Natalie's side of acting and she's a great teacher. I think all her tips might be very useful and I'm looking forward to implement them.

R.G. R.

Good start, the idea of analyzing the influential relationships and the impact on creating the character

Shunda G.

Explore. Allow yourself to make mistake, to develop the character, try new things. As an actress I want to be perfect at getting the character right but I love this lesson because it shows me that being free to dance and evolve is a must. Open myself up bend, not be perfect because the characters are human and humans are so multidimensional

Jay M.

I like how you said you like to take something "new" and mesh it into what you do as an actor. The first time I tried to rehearse a script in front of an acting teacher I was too focused on myself and how I was portraying the character rather than just being the character. To really "become" a character you really need to try and figure out every detail about who the character is, so when you enter a scene, you essentially have a little "library" to draw information from. Thanks, Natalie!

Inge V.

I have learned so much in this lesson. My favorite points was: - "find and name the moments when shifts occur for the character. These change points are the smaller steps the character takes to get to the overarching change they go through." This will really help to know when to act in a certain way. - "Keep in mind that for this kind of work, you should only reference the scenes that your character is in, because they don’t know what’s happening outside themselves." Like us, the character doesn't know what happens when they aren't there, so we can't use that as part of the understanding of the character. - "How does the character see themselves? How do other people see the character? How does the character think other people see them? How does the character want to be seen by them?" This will help to understand the reasons why the character acts in a certain way. - "Within these relationships, think about what the dynamic is and how differently the character acts in each one." People act differently in different relationships. - "To build a believable and real character, highlight your character’s unique personality points while withholding any judgement that you may feel about their choices." "As an actor, your job is to look for ways to justify the character’s actions, even though you might not agree with them." You can't judge your character since you won't judge yourself. We always have a reason for doing certain things and we are not always aware if the thing we are doing is wrong.

Shunda G.

Very informative. I'm learning that there are so many facades to developing and creating a character. If we think about the character as a human then it makes sense because we are so multi-dimensional. We are built up of so many elements: experience, background, genetics, environmental influence, etc.. Love this class! Natalie really breaks down the steps to character development.

Sergio Martin C.

I loved her class, sometimes we make the mistake of judging your character and simply the personality, she gives good tips in simple ways you can understand. I its clear that she study psychology and she learned acting by herself, that gives very good inputs for someone who is new in acting like me.

Sabrina M.

I have just watched the character development lessons (first 3 videos) and this has really helped with my character development in my current projects. The research pointers were great and I really connected with what Natalie was saying. I am really looking forward to more lessons in the coming weeks :D