IndieWire Honors Video: Natalie Portman on the Similar Attention Given to Celebrities and ‘Violent Perpetrators’

On November 1, the 2018 IndieWire Honors ceremony celebrated eight filmmakers and actors for their achievement in creative independence. We’re showcasing their work with new interviews conducted right before they accepted their awards at the event.

There’s a reason Natalie Portman has taken on bolder and bolder characters in recent years “I just feel like I’m so lucky to have this job, and the best way to use it is kind of like getting to live out these wild dreams like being a pop star or an astronaut,” the “Vox Lux” star said during an interview at last week’s IndieWire Honors event. “At the end of the day it’s pretty silly, so you’ve gotta go for it and enjoy it.”

The Oscar winner’s latest role is one of her most daring. Brady Corbet’s ambitious pop-star drama stars Portman as Celeste, a mononymous singer whose dazzling performances onstage are thematically and physically linked to the trauma of mass shootings. If that sounds out-there, it is — but it’s also highly compelling.

“There’s a connection between the attention we give to violent perpetrators and the attention we give to pop-culture figures,” said Portman. “There’s a relationship between the attention, the news coverage, and the way journalism and audiences relate to these figures; the attention gives power, whether it’s a pop star or a violent individual.”

Corbet’s film explores that connection with panache, and Portman’s performance is one of her most memorable yet. Committing so fully to the role may not have been easy, but she was inspired by what she saw on the page.

“I feel like you can see so much in the writing. You know, when you get a character written like this who just has such — first of all, she’s almost always monologuing in ‘Vox Lux,’” Portman said of Corbet’s screenplay.

“It’s not even important to her what anyone else is saying; that’s how much people have been catering to her, and no one says no to her, and, you know, what happens when you’ve been in that position for 15 years? Some of the things that come out of her mouth are total nonsense, and some of the things that come out of her mouth are kind of profound.”

You haven’t seen anyone quite like Celeste before, and neither had Portman. “It’s just an interesting character that I hadn’t seen before,” she said. “So when you get something like that, that feels like a new person that you haven’t seen depicted onscreen before or haven’t read, because I read more than I’m performing, of course.”

Watch her full conversation:

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