Natalie Portman - Backstage at The Oscars® with the Year’s Best Actress Winner



Outstanding actress Natalie Portman, who won for best Performance by an Actress in A Leading Role for her work in Black Swan, gave an elegant acceptance speech at the Oscars after her win. The following is her onstage speech for the 83rd Academy Awards. (Select names have been edited for space and privacy). Here following her very kind speech, we bring you backstage for a special interview with the star.

Natalie Portman: “Thank you so much to the Academy this is insane and I truly sincerely wish that the prize tonight was to get to work with my fellow nominees. I'm so in awe of you. I'm so grateful to get to do the job that I do. I love it so much. I want to thank my parents, who are right there, first and foremost for giving me my life and for giving me the opportunity to work from such an early age and showing me everyday how to be a good human being by example.”

“And I want to thank my team who works with me every day. my manager, for 18 years and my agents and everyone at CAA. (Publicists and) my friends who are everything to me no matter what's going on in my career. And everyone who has ever hired me, Luc Besson, who gave me first job when I was 11 years old. Mike Nichols, who has been my hero and my champion for the past decade and now Darren Aronofsky, you are a fearless leader, a visionary. I am blessed to have just gotten to get to work with you every day for the period of time we did.” “So many people helped me prepare for this role. (…) and my beautiful love Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed the film and has now given me my most important role of my life. And also there are people on films who no one ever talks about that are your heart and soul every day. Margie and Geordie who did my hair and makeup, Nicci, who dressed me, and Kate and Laura who designed the beautiful ballet costumes, our incredible AD, first AD, and our camera operators J.C. and Steve who gave me so much soul behind the camera everyday you gave me all of your energy. Most importantly, my family, my friends, and my love. Thank you so much.”

An interview with Natalie Portman; Backstage at the 83rd Academy Awards

Q. Would you consider your role of Nina someone to be admired or pitied?

A. Natalie Portman: Well, I think Nina is probably both. I think her passion is to be admired but her obvious fragile mental state and fragmentation, her identity is definitely to be pitied.

Q. Black Swan has many different interpretations of the meaning. What's your interpretation?

A. Natalie Portman: Well, I think that one of the most beautiful things about the film is that it can be interpreted in so many different ways. I really see it as this young woman's coming of age and that she becomes a woman. She starts out a girl and becomes a woman by finding her own artistic voice and sort of killing the child's version of herself. She becomes a woman. So I don't see it necessarily as a death at the end like many people do.

Q. How does playing a role like this play out in your personal life? Does it come out in your dreams?

A. Natalie Portman: You know, when I was working it was really so hectic. We were just working such long days and sleeping five hours a night and then just starting a day again, and there was so much preparation and so much training that I didn't really necessarily have time to think about what was happening. And dream wise, I was just so exhausted every day, I was literally just like falling into bed and waking up and going back to set. And I think that sort of pace actually helped me stay so focused for the part. I didn't have too many crazy dreams. I'm pretty good at shutting off. This one was a little harder to shake. I think just the whole mood of the whole movie was so intense, it stayed with me a little longer than usual.

Q. How do you think becoming a mother is going to change the type of roles that you take?

A. Natalie Portman: I have no idea. I mean, it's one of the most exciting things about being pregnant is that I'm accepting the complete unknown, it's a complete mystery and miracle. And, yeah, it's really just accepting that I have no idea, which is what all of us live every day. (…) With my child's, I think I will just thank them for it's sort of been a protection. It feels, you know, like a protection against all of the hoopla. And, you know, the part that keeps you centered, where your meaning is, what is actually important in the midst a lot of shiny stuff that is more superficial.

Q. You bared yourself for the world to see in this film. Can you talk about how you put your trust in Darren and especially Benjamin, to pull that off and the nature of this physically demanding role?

A. Natalie Portman: Absolutely. (With) Darren, I think it's only possible to give yourself so freely when you absolutely one hundred percent trust the person you're working with as your director, because they are responsible for everything. In film it is absolutely a director's medium and you are completely subject to their artistry, and Darren's artistry is so extreme that I really felt free to try anything, and Benjamin similarly. You know, I think to be believable as a dancer, I just trusted in him fully to be honest with me, to choreograph in a manner that best flattered what I could do and best avoided what I couldn't do, and really was catered to making it believable. And he was absolutely the key to credibility for the film, and that was fully on his shoulders.

Q. We've talked so much about dreams tonight and we've seen dreams come true. What is the next big dream you have and what is the dream that you have for your child?

A. Natalie Portman: The next dream I have in terms of (the) very short term future is staying in bed, not having to do my makeup or hair, and keeping my sweats on, relaxing. And for my child, I mean, just to be happy and healthy I think is what every parent could ever wish for. Thank you.

Thank you Natalie.

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