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Playing Jackie Kennedy is no easy feat. As one of the most famous First Lady’s in US history, all women wanted to be her, have her life and wanted to imitate her style. But who was the really Jackie?
In this new take on the iconic figure’s life, Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman dives into the mind of a First Lady who suddenly found herself in a whirlwind of fame, controversy and widow life.
“Jackie,” directed by Pablo Larraín, depicts the four-day period right after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and who she was personally and publicly.
“I think [Jackie] is one of those figures in history that people feel they know everything about and actually know nothing about… I had the same sort of, I think as most people, this sort of superficial understanding of her as a fashion plate or something.” —Natalie Portman
“Looking at the existing film and audiotape of Jackie, we noticed that her voice and her presence were very different,” Portman told Variety of the different personas Jackie would take on in with the media or behind closed doors.
“There were a lot of small details of how she presented herself as the wife of a politician, which were so different from when she was talking to her old friend Schlesinger [Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.] in tapes, during which you can hear the ice clinking against their glasses in the background. It’s a much different tone,” Portman continued. “There are so many feelings at once that she is going through. The film comes at her from so many different aspects. She’s a young widow; she’s a symbol for all these people; she’s a mother; she’s a wife — a betrayed wife; she’s a person who is trying to figure out her way in the world,” Portman said.
For most people Jackie was merely a fashion icon who seemed to live a charmed life in the world of “Camelot” — a term she personally created and coined. But Portman says, while researching for the role, she was faced with a more-than-meets-the-eye situation of this legend.
“I think [Jackie] is one of those figures in history that people feel they know everything about and actually know nothing about,” said Portman in a video interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I had the same sort of, I think as most people, this sort of superficial understanding of her as a fashion plate or something.”
Portman also admitted that this is her most daunting role to date. During a press conference at the Venice Film Festival early this year she explained playing such a well-known, and beloved figure, was risky for her career.
“It definitely felt like the most dangerous [role], because everyone knows what she looked like, and sounded like, and walked like, and had an idea of her, and I’ve never played a character like that before,” said Portman.
Jackie opens on December 2.
—by Toni-Marie Ippolito