Natalie Portman needs no introduction. As a 12-year-old apprentice assassin complete with micro fringe in Leona budding anarchist with real life buzzcut in V For Vendettaor a sci-fi queen in Star Wars Taking space buns to the extreme, Portman’s iconic on-screen roles are matched only by her hairstyles. Oscar winner, director, mother, Dior beauty ambassador, book club founder – the Israeli-born American actor is a true multi-hyphenate.
Now, she’s adding superhero to her CV with her latest role in Thor: Love and Thunder. No stranger to a physical transformation, the 41-year-old takes on both Thor’s luscious blonde hair and his biceps in Marvel’s latest movie.
Below, ELLE UK caught up with Portman to chat beauty as an acting tool, joyful red lipstick and why Julia Roberts is her ultimate icon…
What role has beauty played in your life?
‘It’s changed from just wanting to fit in when I was young, to wanting to accentuate what’s different about me, that’s really been the difference. Beauty has relied so much on making people feel like there was something wrong with them that needed to be fixed instead of saying you have so many incredible things in you that you can bring out, that you can express.
‘I think that’s happening a lot more now, but growing up I certainly felt like I had to cover up my spots or hide my skin’s “flaws”. I was using beauty to hide myself and to fix myself. Now, I feel like it needs to be way more about expressing myself and bringing out my personality and accentuating that, signaling to other people who I am. It would be nice to see more marketing reflect that aspect of beauty.’
Growing up in the public eye, how did you navigate your own self image?
‘It was definitely a combination. It’s tricky, because of course it gives you a certain confidence because you have this success and attention, but it also gives you a real fear and awareness of what people think of you, and that includes the bad things that can make you really insecure.
‘I see the luck of it because I had a lot of people instilling faith in me that I was capable and worthy of attention, but I also had a lot of very public failure and detractors, which is a lot to take in as a young person. It certainly gave me a thick skin and mainly taught me not to take value from the outside – other people’s opinions are not where I should hold my worth.’
Talk us through a beauty look that makes you feel joyful…
‘I really go for the red lip, Dior’s 999 is my classic go-to red. I know that when I wear red lipstick or a nude lipstick I feel different. I feel bolder when I have red lipstick on, and I feel more earthy and natural when I have a nude lipstick on. I love the Dior Rouge campaign where I was laughing and smiling a lot in the images. That made me really happy because it felt just very joyful’.
As a beauty icon in your own right, who do you look to for inspiration?
‘There are so many women I admire. I give my team images of Claudia Cardinale all the time to show them the kind of hair and make-up I like. In terms of women I’ve worked with, Susan Sarandon is someone I admire so much as an beauty but also as someone celebrating her strength and her voice – she’s always speaking for justice and really cares about other humans.
‘Julia Roberts is another person I was lucky enough to work with quite young. She’s such an extraordinary beauty with so much joy and generosity and she’s also incredibly natural in her own skin in a really wonderful way. They also both have good hair, good faces, good skin – they’re pretty genetically gifted!’
What are your thoughts on ageing on screen in an industry that typically favors youth?
‘I think it’s a privilege to age, I love it. This current generation of female actors is refusing to go anywhere and we’re seeing them thrive and do their most interesting work in their 50s, 60s, 70s. I think we’re really seeing incredible, beautiful, interesting portrayals of all different types of women right now.’
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You underwent a massive physical transformation for your latest role, what part did beauty play in that?
‘There’s something quite exciting about being able to play these different aspects of yourself using beauty. It’s very similar to my job which is playing different characters – so much of it has to do with your hair and make-up and you really do feel different. It’s not everything but it can really help to bring out a character.
‘In Thor: Love and Thunder, we see my character Jane in her mortal form and her superhero form, so the beauty aspect of it was really important to differentiate between the two versions of her. It was really wonderful to have these two sides of the character to play with. Between Thor and Jane there’s certainly a lot of beautiful blonde hair in the movie!’
Talk us through your beauty stash…
‘I don’t have a lot of stuff, but I’m also not very organised. There’s stuff in my bag that I forget about and then I change bags and I don’t know where it’s gone… I’ll have something that’s four years old mixed in with something new. But, I’m also quite minimal with what I use and quite efficient – my routine only takes five minutes.
‘I would never not use sunscreen and I always keep two lipsticks in my bag and the Dior cuticle cream because I’m really bad with my nails. If I don’t have the cream I’ll start destroying my cuticles and my nails will get it!’
Finally, tell us the best beauty advice you’ve ever been given…
‘Alber Elbaz [of Yves Saint Laurent, Lanvin and AZ Fashion] gave me fashion advice that I apply to beauty. He always said to me, “You’re short, that’s beautiful. Don’t wear heels.” He used to say, “That’s what’s special about you – celebrate it, wear flats, be yourself. I think in beauty it’s the same thing – what makes you different is what makes you beautiful. The beauty you aspire to shouldn’t be anything else than who you are. It should be the greatest version of yourself and accentuating the most special, different things about yourself.
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