Natalie Portman’s acting masterclass is a must for anyone who wants to act. This accomplished Academy Award winner shares the techniques she used to achieve success. Her superb acting course is full of insider secrets to help you to get your first break.
Your acting masterclass teacher Natalie Portman
In her informative online acting, Natalie Portman explains how she went from being a child actor to an Academy and Golden Globe nominee and winner, in just 5 years.
To date, she has won 2 Golden Globes, an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award and a Screen Actors Award. In total, she has been nominated 13 times for these prestigious acting awards. That is an amazing achievement for someone who is still only 38 years old and just 25 years into her acting career.
There is no doubt that she is an accomplished actor, who truly understands the industry.
Importantly, as you will discover, Natalie Portman is also an excellent teacher. I am sure that, like me, you will enjoy her methodical approach and clear delivery of the information you need. She manages to pack a huge amount of information into this 3-hour long acting video course, which is delivered via 18 videos and a workbook.
Getting to know and developing your character
Natalie Portman is a character actor, so naturally, that is where she starts her course. After the intro video, she dives straight into the subject of character development.
To be able to play a character convincingly, you need to get to know them. It is essential that you understand the person you are playing and work out the best way to convey this to your audience.
In these videos Natalie covers the following subjects, in considerable detail:
- Understanding what makes your character tick
- Creating a character timeline
- Identifying the relationships that are most important to them
- How to use research to embellish your character
- Getting your wardrobe and makeup right
- Finding the voice of your character
- How to use movement to reinforce your character
Keep an eye out for what Natalie says about developing the physicality of your character, in particular, their gestures. Doing this well makes a huge difference
All of the best actors are very accomplished when it comes to developing the physicality of their characters. During the course, Natalie shows you how Gena Rowlands does this in a particular scene of A Woman Under the Influence.
She also explains how to adapt things that go wrong, while shooting a scene, and use it to make your character more believable. The example of Phil Hoffman in Before the Devil Knows Your Dead also resonated with me. So, keep an eye out for that.
Exercises to help you to develop your character
Later in the course, Natalie gives you an exercise to complete that pulls together everything that she has just taught you about character development. If you can, get into the habit of doing this exercise every time you watch a film.
I’ve started doing it and am now getting a lot more out of the movies I am watching and am enjoying them more. So, even if you only take this masterclass because you are a fan of Natalie Portman, I would urge you to give this a go.
How to play real people
Playing historical figures or someone who is still living requires a slightly different approach. You have to be more sensitive. The research needs to include both the private and public sides of your character. But, you must not let the fact that you are playing a real person stifle your creativity.
Listening to how Natalie decided what aspects of Jackie Kennedy’s life to research was interesting. As you will see, her approach is very clever. Yet, it is something you could easily replicate if you were to land ‘real person’ role.
In this video, she also provides an insight into how the actor and director can collaborate to improvise when necessary. Something that is only possible when you have done your research well.
Natalie Portman’s case studies and demos
Like all good teachers, Natalie backs up what she is teaching with plenty of practical examples. Throughout the course, she provides case studies. My advice would be not to skip over these. During these case studies, she shares numerous additional tips and techniques, which you do not want to miss out on. If you are anything like me, you will find that you remember what you learn from these case studies more. It will also make it easier for you to apply what you are learning.
Towards the end of her masterclass, Natalie provides practical demos to help you to understand some of the principles she covered in the earlier classes. I particularly liked this demo video.
Helen Mirren did something similar in her masterclass. I can tell you this is a really effective way to learn. It was a fascinating part of both Helen’s and Natalie’s acting masterclasses.
How to get your accent or dialect right
I’ve taken two other acting masterclasses. But, neither of them covered getting accents and dialects right in as much depth as Natalie Portman has. She walks you through how she trained to get Jackie Kennedy’s voice and intonation right. I really liked the fact that she did this with the help of the dialect coach she used to train for that role.
The discussion about how your character’s life experiences, aspirations, position in life and goals have an impact on the way they speak was particularly revealing. As was what they had to say about where they pause and take a breath. They went into a huge amount of detail.
So, the dialect can inform character choices and then the character choices can inform dialect.Natalie Portman – Acting Masterclass
Is Natalie Portman’s the best acting masterclass?
As I mentioned above, I’ve already taken two of the other acting masterclasses and personally believe that in many ways Natalie’s is the best of the three. But, I still want to urge you to take the other acting masterclass.com actor-led classes. Each one teaches you something different. So, taking them all will benefit you far more than just completing one of them.
That is why, for most people, buying the all-access pass is a good idea. Using the pass, which only costs $180, enables you to take all 60+ masterclasses, for that price. If I were to have bought the 2 acting courses I have taken, so far, I would have had to pay $270.
For most people, the all-access pass will work out to be a real bargain, at least in the long term. You can learn more about the terms and conditions of the all-access pass and other masterclass.com features by reading my in-depth review.
Working on set
Getting yourself into the right mindset before you arrive on set is vital. Natalie shows you how to do this, as well as explaining how to connect with everyone you are working with, on an emotional level.
Throughout the course, Natalie puts a lot of emphasis on the need to collaborate well with others. She explains how to establish a bond with everyone you work with. It was also interesting to hear how she handles being emotionally vulnerable on set.
Acting is unlike other arts because you’re not sitting alone painting in a room, you’re not playing an instrument by yourself. You are working with an orchestra.Natalie Portman – Masterclass.com
To get even more out of this video, remember to look at video 17. It is in the form of a series of demos that show you how to navigate the set, work with props and the camera.
How to handle acting on a green screen set
Green-screen acting is becoming more common. So, this is a skill that every actor must master. Unfortunately, this was a very short video. Too short for me, but, it was refreshing to see here including this important skill in her course.
Green screen acting is kind of the purest form of acting… You are inventing both what’s outside of you and what’s inside of you.Natalie Portman’s Online Acting Masterclass
How to perform well on camera
This is a relatively short part of the course. But, as you can see, Natalie packs an incredible amount of knowledge into this section. Here is a summary of what you will learn:
- How to memorize your lines
- When and how to bring your ideas to the table on set
- Have a point of view of how to play your character
- How to be open and fluid
- Responding to your director’s guidance
- The skill of watching playback
- How to be there for your fellow actors
- How to act emotional scenes
How to work well with directors
Having a good rapport with your director is essential. The relationship is definitely collaborative. But, it is a hieratical relationship. So, you need to learn how to understand what the director is expecting from you and how he or she works. Natalie quickly explains how to get what is a complex working relationship right.
How to improvise and become a better actor
Improvisation helps you to engage more with your character. It is also a lot of fun. Natalie shows you how to actively listen and interact with your physical environment in a way that helps you to explore your character.
Parting advice all actors can benefit from
The last two videos in the course are packed with lots of extra advice. I was impressed by how practical it was. Importantly, she speaks about how to play parts you would rather not take on. In particular, characters you do not agree with or respect. Every actor occasionally has to do this to pay the bills. So, this is an important skill to learn.
It is very clear that Natalie is respectful of the people she works with. She clearly understands that working in this way is beneficial for everyone. To be able to do this you have to learn to be empathetic. Natalie discusses ways you can do this.
Natalie Portman’s acting masterclass workbook
To say I enjoyed this acting masterclass is an understatement. It was one of the best masterclasses; I have taken, so far. But, I was a bit disappointed with the workbook that went with the course.
It did not read as if Natalie had written it. As a result, unlike many of the other workbooks, you don’t learn that much more by using it. But, I would still go through it, either as you watch the videos or afterwards.
There are several extra assignments included in the workbook, as well as, a couple of helpful diagrams for you to use to complete some of the character exercises. Plus, it provides an overview of what is included in the course.
Who is Natalie Portman’s online acting masterclass suitable for?
Without a doubt, this course is written with those who are serious about acting, in mind. However, I personally think that practically anyone would enjoy taking it. So, if you are struggling to find a gift for a movie lover or Natalie Portman fan, this course could be the perfect answer.