If you love movies, “Who is your favorite actress?” is always a tough question. When I was a kid, the answer was simpler, and Natalie Portman was always one of the names that would come up. She has been around ever since I started watching movies, but the first time I really noticed her was in Mike Nichols’ 2004 film Closer. And then in V for Vendetta, Black Swan; the list goes on and on…
Certainly, Natalie Portman is one of the most acclaimed actresses out there, and the fact that anyone now has a chance to take her course on MasterClass is incredible. I wanted to take her course because I admire her, but also because I have no experience in acting whatsoever, and I felt like trying something new.
So, is Natalie a capable and inspiring teacher as I expected her to be, and how much did I learn as an absolute beginner?
Table of Contents
What is the Natalie Portman MasterClass?
“Natalie Portman teaches Acting” is an online course offered by MasterClass, an online learning platform widely known for its incredible team of instructors.
Natalie Portman is an acclaimed actress, director, writer, producer, and activist. She has received many rewards and accolades, including an Academy Award, Golden Globes, a Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice, and a BAFTA Award.
In her Masterclass, Natalie shares her acting techniques and insights and talks about her personal experiences, inspirations, and life-changing roles. She also reveals what she learned from her collaborations with talented directors and digs deeper into her way of tackling specific roles through case study lessons.
“Natalie Portman teaches Acting” features 20 video lessons with a duration of 2 hr 37 min in total. This is enough to learn the basics and look behind the scenes at some of Natalie Portman’s most memorable movies.
Who is Natalie Portman?
As an actress, Natalie Portman made her debut in Luc Besson’s 1994 film Léon: The Professional. She then went on to star in films such as Anywhere But Here, Cold Mountain, the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Closer, Black Swan, Annihilation, and many more. She also wrote and directed several films and short films.
Natalie received numerous awards and nominations throughout her career, including an Academy Award in the Best Actress category for her performance in Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film Black Swan.
In addition to acting, writing, and directing, she contributes to several humanitarian causes. For instance, she became the first Ambassador of Hope for FINCA and is involved with the Power of a Girl Project.
She is also a Harvard graduate with a degree in psychology, and she has also studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
What is the target audience for the Natalie Portman MasterClass?
Natalie Portman’s Masterclass is best for aspiring actors already familiar with standard acting techniques, but it’s also a great course for anyone who wants to start working in film. Whether you want to become a producer or a cinematographer, you’ll probably find this course interesting and helpful.
In her classes, Natalie talks about life on set, including performing on camera, working with the props, and green-screen acting. This could also interest film buffs who want to learn more about what’s happening behind the scenes.
Finally, this course is great for anyone who admires Natalie Portman and her work. Apart from acting tips, she shares her experiences, opinions, and specific advice to young actors.
To sum things up, here are some of the examples of people who can benefit from Natalie Portman’s course:
- Aspiring actors with some experience
- Theatre and film students
- People who want to get into the film industry
- Movie lovers who want to learn more about filming and life on set
- Admirers of Natalie Portman’s work
What does Natalie Portman teach in this course?
In her MasterClass, Natalie Portman teaches basic acting techniques and shares her experiences as a self-taught actress. She talks about all the important phases of getting a new role – character research, developing your character’s physicality, dialect coaching, green-screen acting, working with directors, etc.
This course feels like an acting guide – but a very fun and effective one. For every technique, she provides an example. So, you’ll learn how to tackle your next role, but you’ll also find out how Natalie Portman approached some of her iconic roles.
Lessons are well-structured and fluid, and Natalie is very down-to-earth and easy to understand, so you won’t feel overwhelmed or confused.
If you want to know more about the specific topics she covers, let’s take a quick look at the lessons:
- In the introduction, Natalie talks about how she learned many tricks from other actors but also created her own ways and helpful acting tools
- Lessons 2-5 are focused on preparation for a new role, including getting to know your character, developing your character through research, and understanding your character’s physicality and gestures.
- Lesson 6 is a case study on Black Swan – an interesting look at her portrayal of a professional ballerina, Nina Sayers.
- Lessons 7-8 are focused on dialect coaching.
- Lessons 9-12 are on working on set, performing on camera, establishing rapport with directors, and Natalie’s successful collaborations with directors.
- Lesson 13 is a case study focused on Terrence Mallick and his unconventional approach to directing.
- Lessons 14-18 revolve around taking roles and assignments and how Natalie usually approaches them, including playing a real character, improvisation, green-screen acting, etc.
- Lessons 19-20 are the final lessons, where Natalie gives advice to actors and talks about the importance of practicing empathy.
Some of my favorite lessons from the Natalie Portman MasterClass
As you see, Natalie Portman tackles many interesting topics related to acting and working on set. The lessons are also very different – some are more practical, and others are focused on the emotional part of portraying a character. It’s hard to tell which ones I liked better, but here are a few of my favorites.
Case Study: “Black Swan”
In her lesson “Case Study: Black Swan,” Natalie breaks down her role in Black Swan as a ballerina, losing her grip on reality. She talks about her training with a ballet instructor and how she approached the character’s mental state.
This is surely an interesting lesson for anyone who likes the movie, but it’s also very beneficial to beginner actors as well as experienced actors who are about to take a more demanding role.
In this interesting lesson, Natalie reveals how it feels to act in front of a green screen and feels about the two ways actors generally do this: following an object (e.g., a tennis ball) or visualizing everything by yourself and moving intuitively.
As someone who has never done it, I found this lesson very interesting and informative.
Advice for Actors
I like that part of the Masterclass where instructors give honest advice – and this time was no different.
In her penultimate lesson, “Advice for Actors,” Natalie shares tips and tricks regarding auditioning, finding inspiration, advocating for the people you collaborate with, and engaging with culture to nourish your artistic spirit.
How much does the Natalie Portman MasterClass cost?
MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, so there’s no possibility to purchase courses individually. Therefore, if you want to take Natalie Portman’s course, you have to opt for an annual subscription to MasterClass.
The annual subscription to Masterclass costs $120 per year (down from the previous $180) or $10 per month. If you subscribe to MasterClass, you’ll get unlimited access to all the courses. In other words, you’ll gain access to a catalog of 180+ classes. That said, Masterclass offers great value for money, especially if you’re interested in a variety of topics.
Also, MasterClass offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. So, if you’re not happy with the platform and your learning experience, you can require a full refund.
Taking a single MasterClass course is pricey, but if you want to take multiple classes over the year, an annual MasterClass subscription is worth consideration.
What I liked about the Natalie Portman MasterClass
All things considered, I think Natalie Portman’s MasterClass is worth taking. Natalie is smart, inspiring, and down-to-earth, so I really enjoyed listening to her. Plus, lessons are well-structured and easy to follow, so I didn’t get bored or overwhelmed at any point.
To be more precise, here are some of the aspects of the course I liked the most:
Examples and interesting techniques
In her lessons, Natalie Portman discusses specific acting techniques and tools that helped her throughout her career. She is a self-taught actor, so hearing her story and how she learned all these tricks was interesting. Moreover, her acting course isn’t based on a procedure you can follow – it’s more about following your instincts and finding your way of approaching a particular role. She prioritizes empathy, mindfulness, and emotional connections rather than strict steps and procedures.
Also, whenever she mentions a certain technique or tool, she gives an example from a movie she did. This way, it’s easier to understand what she’s talking about. At the same time, I heard a lot of fun facts and stories from her life that I wasn’t familiar with before.
Fascinating case studies
Some of Natalie’s lessons are based on case studies, and I think this is a cool way of mixing things up and adding more dynamics to the course. In her case study lessons, she discusses portraying a professional ballerina in Black Swan and working with Terrence Malick.
It’s interesting to hear what she learned from these experiences – this way, you can learn a lot too.
Natalie Portman’s approach
Natalie Portman talks in a very calm and relaxed yet engaging manner. You can clearly see that she is passionate about acting and filmmaking, and there’s something very graceful about her – both in her acting and her teaching style. Her lessons feel very honest, natural, and unscripted. That said, I felt comfortable, curious, and engaged during the course.
Excellent production quality
Well, this is true for every MasterClass course, but the videos in the course look great – from production quality and camera angles to the aesthetics of the setting.
There are also some movie clips shown while she’s talking about certain scenes, which is always a nice touch.
What I didn’t like about the Natalie Portman MasterClass
Although there are not many things I didn’t like about this course, some aspects might be a disadvantage for some learners.
Lack of standard acting methods
You’ll probably be disappointed if you’re a newcomer and come here to learn basic standard acting techniques. Natalie Portman is a self-taught actor, which means she acquired all her knowledge and skills through her working experience and learning from others. Her acting tips and tricks are sometimes very specific and practical but often relate to empathy and emotional connection.
I repeat – this might be a disadvantage for some learners. It all depends on your expectations.
Review conclusion: Is the Natalie Portman MasterClass worth it?
Overall, I think Natalie Portman’s acting class is worth taking. It’s well-rounded, dynamic, and enjoyable.
As someone who doesn’t have any acting experience, I found it very informative and insightful as well. But I didn’t learn any standard ‘acting techniques that every actor should know’ – Natalie’s approach is slightly different. In this course, she teaches how to be mindful and emotionally connect to your role.
On the other hand, she shares her life experiences on set – working with the directors, props, cameras, and so on. I love film and cinematography, so I enjoyed this part too.
All in all, if you want to learn more about effective ways you can approach different roles, or if you simply want to delve deeper into filmmaking from Natalie Portman’s point of view, I’m sure you won’t regret taking this course.