Natalie Portman: “Spanish is one of the languages most useful in the world”
Natalie Portman is as renowned for her intelligence as she is for the movies she acts in. Not only has she famously turned down roles and missed premiers in order to focus on and further her studies, but she also works as a UN ambassador and is fluent in a number of languages including Hebrew, German, Japanese, Spanish and French. Natalie Portman has been known to be able to deliver a speech quite well in any of these languages. Celebrities like Natalie Portman are realizing how important it is to speak more than one language, as does the rest of the global population.
Q: What do you think is important to learn a second language?
A: I think the dedication and learning the technique is required. I didn’t do it for my career as is not required of an actress at all, I mean, translation it’s an art where dedication is characterized by hard work
Q: Do you have a passion for learning
A: Yeah, since I was a kid. Learning gives you an open mind. Knowing languages is a tool that help in some situations where all you do is just, you don’t even think about it, you just keep moving forward. I love the work and I love my job as an actress that helped me so much. I feel so lucky that this is my job, and it’s also lucky that there are superficial rewards to it, (laughs) I mean, to get to do something that you love and get paid to do it is pretty lucky.
Q: Why you decide to study Spanish?
A: I don't love studying. I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful. Spanish is one of the languages most useful in the world. I went to shoot a Milos Forman movie in Spain, in Madrid and I fell in love with the culture, the language, the lifestyle.
Q: Any Spanish author do you like to read?
A: I have a long list. There is a book but is not from a spanish author but american about Argentina in the 70’s that I like a lot. The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander
Q: Are you a person who likes to take risks?
A: I’m afraid of a lot, I’m not a danger seeker, I like extreme experiences, but not ones that I feel like would threaten my life, I like scuba diving, but I wouldn’t free dive, (laughs) and yeah, I’m afraid of everything. (laughs) I wasn’t afraid of, I mean, work wise, I try and do things that scare me, because I know that they are going to challenge me. The thing is, it’s totally cliché, but true that the more you put in, the more you get out of it, same when you are learning something
Q: Are you planning, searching for strong characters?
A: I like trying everything, I want to always do things that I haven’t done before, it’s my main criteria, and also things that interest me in the moment have to do with, relate to things that I might feel in my own life where I feel like I can explore with the roles.
Q: You have an Oscar, you read, you are going to direct a movie, you speak five languages are you looking for perfection?
A: I think most art is in search of those perfect moments, that beauty, that exists for a fraction of a second, and you can’t grasp, as soon as you have it in your sight, it’s gone already, and I want to do the best job that I can, I’m definitely demanding of myself, but I think perfection for acting is very different, I mean it’s imperfection that you are looking for, cause portraying people who are by nature imperfect.
Q: Does your degree from university help you to build characters?
A: Absolutely, I mean first of all I think that University taught me how hard I could work, because the first time you get your reading list for the week, it’s like a thousand pages to read in four days, your stomach drops, and then, you see that you can do that amount of work, and take what you can take from it and create your own thing from these other materials and that’s really helpful when you are doing something like this, to have all these sources and work that hard and throw yourself into it that much, it gave me the confidence that I could do that. And yeah, the psychology stuff helps in any role.
Q: You have said that you feel that you never fit in. I just wondered, when do you fit in?
A: Probably just with my friends and family. (laughs) I guess they know me well enough that I feel like I belong.
Q: The fact that there’s a lot of humor in your role in Thor, is that something that you welcomed?
A: Yeah, I wanted to be the clown because, well, she’s not exactly a clown but you know, it’s always fun if you can make someone laugh and make them happy.
Q: Is there anything, like karaoke, something silly or funny that you like doing we might not expect? We generally think of you as pretty serious...
A: I like karaoke, I don’t do it that often, but yeah, my friends and I joke around pretty regularly, I think most people do. (laughs)
Q: Do you have any karaoke song that you like to do?
A: I always do Milkshake. (laughter)
Q: When do you feel your most beautiful? Is it in the morning maybe when you wash your face?
A: Yeah, I feel best when I don’t have any makeup on, cause it just feels like me and being comfortable in your own skin and is when you feel best, when you don’t feel like you are hiding, but of course it can be fun too and enhance with a little mascara and lipstick, but yeah, being natural is always a good feeling.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about being vegan and how you feel when you are and when you are not eating meat?
A: Yeah. My energy levels are so even when I am vegan and also my skin clears up, it’s really wild, I realize when I am vegan that I am allergic to things, not severely allergic where I get a stomach ache or hives or anything, but that my body is trying to get toxins out of something when I am having dairy or eggs.
Q: So what do you do when you are feeling weak?
A: I don’t feel weak, I eat healthy balanced meals and there’s great sources of energy between nuts and beans and grains and obviously vegetables, you get everything you need.
Q: Are you good at cooking as well?
A: No, but my husband is. (laughs)
Q: So you are good at ordering in.
A: (laughs) Exactly.
Q: You have got a little dog as well right?
Q: How does that feed you emotionally?
A: I think animals are the greatest. They are just, you wish a lot more people could be like. (laughs) They have such souls and it’s positive energy to have in the house for sure.
Q: What would you say is your guilty pleasure? Is it like a reality TV show?
A: I watch a lot of cooking television, like Food Network. I do a lot of Top Chef and a lot of Food Network.
Q: But apparently you're not learning anything from it?
A: (laughs) No. I know, you would think I wouldn’t learn. I feel like I know how to do it, and then I will do it and it’s fine, I am not terrible, but not great either. (laughs)
Q: You were saying that when you have a new role, you have a lot of fear. Is fear something that kind of propels you to do certain things? Do you enjoy that feeling?
A: Yeah. It can hold you back and then I guess because it can hold you back, I try and rebel against it. It’s not like I like the fear but it’s like I want to reject it by trying to say like you can’t stop me from doing what I want to do. (laughs)
Q: What type of silly fears do you have? Like spiders or flying? Are you a good flier
A: Yeah. I am not really afraid of that kind of stuff, but I don’t like being in the house alone at night, but I think that’s sort of, most women get that. But no particular phobia kind of things.
Q: In this film, Thor is rebellious towards his dad and I just wondered if you went through that phase and are you prepared for that phase being on the other end now that you’re a mom?
A: (laughs) I wasn’t very rebellious, I wasn’t. I mean, I definitely had my fights with my parents, but I wasn’t rebellious.
Q: Do you think, had you not been a hugely successful actress, is there a career that you sometimes think, oh, I really would have liked to pursue that?
A: Lots. I think about law, I think about writing, I have thought about nursing.
Q: Which is very different from directing, which is something that you like to do. I mean, do you like to be in control, is that part of the appeal, that you might like to direct?
A: Yeah, that’s probably it. (laughs)
Q: So you might be a bit bossy?
A: I don’t know about bossy, l think likening to create an environment is different from, like bossy has a negative connotation.
(c) America Reads Spanish