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Arts & Entertainment

Performing on Camera

Natalie Portman

Lesson time 12:05 min

After years of performing on camera, Natalie has figured out what helps her achieve her best work. She explains her personal process as well as other tips for making the most of your time in front of the camera.

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.

I’m new to the idea of acting, but after this masterclass, I’m sold and what to try it out for myself. The way that Natalie describes that acting is about being having empathy and caring about another persons life, is so refreshing. I loved this MasterClass!

I've completed a few master classes and this was the best. Natalie shares so much information, very detailed and she is so clearly passionate about what she does, but wanting to really benefit others also. Very inspiring!

Really enjoyed her spirit and she made it fun to learn and the techniques that shes uses and that she's learned over the years are great! I love the workbook too!

I really enjoyed this class with Natalie Portman. I liked that she said you have to be a good person not only for acting but also for life. I also liked that she said you have to feel for other people in order to be a good actor.


A fellow student

This is very different from what one used to hear about actors, divas, stars. Glad that things have changed. To quote Baba Ram Das: "Be Here Now" for you and your collaborators. That may involve three different ways to show up for one's character.

Shunda G.

So many gems! I've learned recently how important it is to be there for your fellow actor. It creates unity. Also loved the advice about creating three diff ideas for yourself. This helps with range and flexibility! Thank you Natalie! Definitely trying to figure our my debt of emotion for characters. One director asked me could I cry on cue but didn't have any character or scene to go from. He just wanted me to cry for make-up purposes.

Alex F.

Memorizing the lines for me is a big challenge, I really wanted my actor teachers could really talk about the ritual of learning the lines, I know it is a personal work it comes with a lot of thinking of the character but as a beginner, every comment and advice enrich the way you can improve it, cool advice she brings it to have 3 or more ways to make the scene so you are prepared


I think it's great that Natalie says to be respectful to your fellow actors and to be there for them, "the more you are giving, the more you receive back."

Gayle D.

HI, We are couple actors, would like more parts,, cheers

Gayle D.

Great work, we are couples actors . we would love more scenes, bonnie and klyde 2 or Woody allen type of movies.

Inge V.

My notes: - “The extent to which you’ll perfect your lines depends on who the director and/or writer is. Make sure you know what’s expected from you by your director. Some directors want you to know your lines cold, while others prefer that you leave room for improvisation.” - “Jot down notes in the margins of your scenes as you do your work. This is especially helpful for adding depth to smaller or supporting roles.” Write down what you would say to yourself if you were the director. - “Commit to your character choices, but be ready to change if the director asks you for something different.” Have a point of view even if you say 1 line, but be open to things changing – the director’s comments or an actor’s actions and words. Be responsive to what the director is saying. - “When there is time for multiple takes, start with your first choice for the character. Then, you can work in the more unexpected choices during subsequent takes.” - “Always let what’s happening in the present moment with your fellow actors inform your decisions and how you react.” The place or other character’s reactions can be unexpected, play with that and be flexible. - “Have an awareness of continuity.” Track your own journey and remember emotions and physicality so that you can do it the same. - “You may get to watch playback. This is only useful if you do so in a constructive way with regard to your acting, not what you look like.” - “If you think you’re conveying an emotion to the camera but you’re not sure if it’s reading, ask to take a look at the monitor. It’s good to check in with the director first because they can tell you as well, if they haven’t already provided an adjustment.” Don’t be self-conscious. Learn and figure things out. - “I’ve generally found actors to be incredibly generous partners in a scene. The more you give, I’ve always found, the more you receive back. There’s this real excitement in getting to play together.” Be flexible to other’s way of working. - “Think of acting as play, but remember to stay present, listen, and react appropriately according to your character.” Feel what the other person is doing and communicate. - “Heightened emotions can be a challenge for some actors, no matter who they are. Know this about yourself so that you can best prepare for a highly emotional scene, whether it’s extremely funny or extremely sad—know what you need to get yourself to those places.” - “Go through your script and pinpoint moments where you notice that physical continuity is important. For example, if your character uses a cell phone a lot, you’ll have to think about how you handle the device—do you keep it in your pocket or handbag? Which hand will you use to take it out?” - “Try approaching the scene you memorized like a director. Make notes in the margin as to how you would direct yourself in the scene to get three or more different takes. No matter which idea you end up using on set, it’s good for your role prep and furthering your understanding of the material.” It also helps you to be prepared when the directors give you something unexpected to do.

Noel H.

excellent tips! 5 stars (using my words since the Rate This Lesson stars does not stay on. *****) Thanks Natalie!

Tiffany P.

Great lesson! No better way to learn than from someone's personal experiences. I can relate really easily to some of these examples and topics, I've had my fair share of doubt. Definitely don't enjoy the playbacks and I have had a hard time before being flexible with the different changes to my character.

Milton N.

The part of being their for your fellow actors -- so true! I come from a directing background, but now I'm getting into acting, so much respect I've seen with actors -- thanks for clarifying it again. Does anybody know if Natalie would write the scene, hers only or the entire thing?