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.

wow an incredible look into what a successful working actress does to excel at her craft

Its great plz get Dustin Hoffaman, Paccino, Dinario. Daniel Day lewis classes

It's going wood me think outside the box as an actor. Stopped me from thinking in a cliché way. Also enjoyed the golden nuggets of information.

It was really interesting to hear Natalie talk about acting, but I don't feel that she is as effective of a teacher as some of the others. She's an incredible actress and performer though!


A fellow student

I really wish that more time had been taken in the preparation of these classes. These people are masters of their craft and they provide remarkable insights, but it becomes very obvious that a lot of this is completely off the cuff. With a name like masterclass it tends to lead one to believe that this would be a class type of setting with a structured lesson plan. And I'm not saying that this needs to be stuffy but that the lessons are well-thought-out and that we're getting the most thoroughly thought-out version of these lessons. I appreciate that these people are busy and there probably wasn't a lot of time to take from them but I do very much get the sense from these lessons that most of what's being said on camera is off the cough and not pre-prepared. I would be much more curious to see what insights they could share if they took the time to prepare beforehand.

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: