Film & TV

Playing a Real Character

Natalie Portman

Lesson time 07:33 min

Playing a historical figure requires intensive research into both the private and public sides of your character. Natalie discusses how she stays true to the facts about her character while leaving room for invention and creativity.

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.


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

Natalie gives a lot of deep insight into the world of acting. The intricacies of character development that she offers are great tools to know. A lovely class.

It helped me gain more insight on what it is like to act, what it is like for a woman in the film Industry and how they are treated. It also taught me new skills and how to apply them to myself not just for acting but for real life scenarios.

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

I wish I could listen to her talk about acting forever. There's so much I want to know.


Lydia P.

I love the insight about playing a real person. And the part about the 'complications' was awesome! It must have been such a strange feeling to know that you were part of something so traumatic and then not fully remember it. The layers that brings is amazing. I've never thought of a situation in those terms and it has definitely changed the way I look at, not only life, but also the way I'll approach scenes in the future. Great lesson.

Nowa C.

Something that Natalie doesn't mention in this video but just sort of dawned on me is reading biographies to get real human histories in written form, that plays with the imaginative process in a different way than watching documentaries would so that it gives you a sort of repertoire of experiences to pull from when trying to flesh out your own creative ideas of your fictional character's back stories. Just really great lesson!

Aditya C.

Wow I am blown away by the class and the insights Natalie has about her acting process.I am really loving the journey..

Matthew B.

Great Job on Jackie ! You were the perfect choice for the Role and delivered. Notebook getting bigger


She was amazing as Jackie.Id love to collaborate with her someday.We do allow ourselves to dream right.That would be great

Nathaniel M.

Great class! I like how it's a lot of "inside baseball" unique to her experience as opposed to general acting class stuff.


If you could choose any, what historical character would you play? To share your work, get feedback, connect with students and discuss the workbook, visit The Hub! Tons of great resources there. Here's the link: