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Arts & Entertainment

Working on Set

Natalie Portman

Lesson time 10:50 min

Natalie shares her techniques for working on set. You’ll learn how to emotionally connect with collaborators, handle vulnerability and self-consciousness, and maintain energy during a long day of shooting.

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.

Very good class! It covered many topics and explained very well each different techniques and experiences that she had.

it was a deep insight of a practical world out there and what are the situations you face while shooting, and how to work on those, all in all I had a brilliant experience!

It helped me know acting better and deeper. I'm trying to implement that to my life now.

great tool for on screen actors and beginners, but also great specificity on professional acting and technique.


A fellow student

Emotionally connecting with collaborators, engaging between takes , or taking alone time to protect oneself from negative energy... and being aware of the camera, not ignoring it. Lots of observations and juggling to do.

Shunda G.

I enjoy the laughter and jokes in between takes because it is a connecting space for everyone on and off set. Need to work on voicing my needs more on set, whether it's: extra people being on set, comfortability, boundaries , etc..

Stuart G.

Lights, camera, action on set, don't overthink it just go with your scene, relax, plenty of energy, be positive and work with your fellow actors. The crew shouldn't distract from the actors performance.

Alex F.

Accepting and NOT ignoring the camera, just thinking is part of the situation is really good advice, interesting the way she acknowledges that could bring some connection and use it in the scene in the way you make contact with your fellow actors as well.

Inge V.

My notes: - “When you finally get to set, you’ve done all the work—so the important thing is to relax, be confident, and just try and be as fearless as possible.” This is so that you can create a person that feels like a person. - “Be confident with the work you’re bringing to the table, but also be flexible, as unexpected things may happen.” - “Be an active listener (to both the director off-camera and your fellow costars when you’re acting), as this will allow for your real vulnerability and work to shine through.” - “No matter how prepared you are, or where you are in your career, you may experience feelings of self-consciousness.” A self-conscious character should be in the story, not off-camera. - “Embrace everything that is in your field of vision. Don’t ignore the camera, accept it.” Mentally accept that all these people and cameras are there, you can’t just ignore them. - “Next, as you ease into your day on set, endeavor to have an emotional connection with your collaborators—the camera operators, directors, and fellow actors.” You can’t create something about feelings without incorporating the feelings of everyone you are working with. Especially connect with those who can also feel the emotion in the scene. - “The way you feel about performing with vulnerable scenes (emotionally tense or nude scenes) is important, so listen to your gut as to what you might need to feel comfortable. Share these needs with your first AD or director. Closed or small sets are a given for shooting any type of nudity, however, if a scene feels vulnerable in an emotional way, you can ask for the same thing.” It is important to feel comfortable in your environment when doing emotional scenes. It’s sometimes better to have fewer eyes on you and have the intimacy of the set. - “A key form of preparation includes knowing what to do before you show up in front of the camera. Create rituals that both engage and relax you.” - “Keeping the play alive while working on set is an important part of the process.” Keep your brain working on something else when off-camera. Be playful and keep the energy. - “If there is drama or negative energy on set, take care of yourself first. Find ways to absorb only the positive energy. Know when to take space and try to keep the negative energy that doesn’t help you to a minimum.” You want the emotional stuff happening on camera, not off camera. Don’t let negative energy exhaust you so that you don’t have energy for the scenes. - “Create a 15- to 30-minute ritual that grounds and engages you before arriving on set. Be creative and find one or two things that work for you. Begin to incorporate your ritual at the same dedicated time each day. Because every day is often unpredictable, finding a routine like this will ground you as an actor.” - “Make a list of five to ten activities that engage your brain. Use these activities to stay focused whenever you have a role.” These activities should keep you from doing something that is going to distract you from what you need to do.

April W.

I liked this lesson a lot because she talked about what too do in an emotional scene.

Tiffany P.

I really learned a lot from this lesson, most of the topics I would have never thought about alone. it is so interesting how you can engage emotionally to anyone thats around you in the particular moment. It's reassuring to know that it is acceptable to voice what you are and aren't comfortable with to your director.

Stephanie S.

I never thought about drawing emotional energy from others on the set besides actors. This will be interesting to play with moving forward.

Siwat M.

Great lessons for working in front of the camera! This will benefit my career of working with camera and my team! Many tips and detailed techniques are explained well.

Allison F.

Incredible amount of detail which is very helpful. I am in the process of considering working with a group of Independent filmmakers as both writer and actor and these lessons are really inspiration for me as well as providing excellent and clear information about the many things that need to be considered.