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Natalie Portman on Bulking up for Thor: ‘I Was Asked to Get as Big as Possible’

Five foot three Natalie Portman, slight of build and high of voice, has always been a naturally petite presence. Even with her powerhouse acting chops, she comes across as elfin, a trope she’s played against for humor in skits like “Natalie’s Rap” on SNL. But for her upcoming role as The Mighty Thor (Jane Foster plus hammer plus powers) in Thor: Love and Thunder, she was asked for the first time in her career to add muscle to her frame, and the physical change affected her mentally as well.

“On Black Swan, I was asked to get as small as possible,” Portman told Variety, reflecting on the role—a ballerina—that netted her an Oscar. “[For Thor], I was asked to get as big as possible. That’s an amazing challenge—and also state of mind as a woman.”

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“To have this reaction and be seen as big, you realize, ‘Oh, this must be so different, to walk through the world like this,’” she added. “When you’re small—and also, I think, because I started as a kid—a lot of times I feel young or little or, like, a pat-on-the-head kind of person. And I present myself that way, too, because of that.”

For the role, soccer team part-owner Portman worked with a trainer for ten months, although not even the most talented physical trainer could make the actor taller, which the script called for. Instead, a ramp was built for Natalie Portman to walk on during filming so that she could stand eye-to-eye with co-star Chris Hemsworth. 

“It was actually one of our running jokes,”she said, after co-star Tessa Thompson alluded to the way the word “deck” sounds when pronounced with a New Zealand accent, as director Taika Waititi has. “Chris would have to…They’d all have to navigate my deck!”

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