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Natalie Portman revealed she was asked to get “as big as possible” for her superhero role in Thor: Love and Thunder.
“That’s an amazing challenge—and also state of mind as a woman,” she said.
The movie is out July 8, and fans are already blown away by the muscular arms Portman shows off in trailers.
Most of Natalie Portman’s roles take advantage of her smallness—she’s five-foot-three and petite in every sense of the word. So when Thor: Love and Thunder directors asked her to bulk up for her superhero debut, it was a bit disorienting, to say the least.
Returning to the Marvel franchise as astrophysicist Jane Foster, in the new film, the 41-year-old transforms into Mighty Thor thanks to Thor’s hammer powers. According to an interview with Variety, Portman had to stand on a ramp to see eye-to-eye with her co-star Chris Hemsworth. But she got the muscle (particularly in her arms and shoulders) thanks to 10 months of hard work with a trainer.
“On Black Swan, I was asked to get as small as possible,” she recalled. “Here, I was asked to get as big as possible. That’s an amazing challenge—and also state of mind as a woman.” Plus, it‘s a big jump for someone who’s always reminding herself that she’s not the 16-year-old she entered the business as.
“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.”
After getting past that bit of imposter syndrome, the transformation quickly became an empowering one for the Closer star—and it was especially well timed, considering she had just turned 40. “It was really such a gift to get to have that at that time in my life,” she told USA Today. “I [felt] like, ‘Oh, my God. I’m old.’ Now I actually feel like the best in my body that I’ve ever felt, and the most strong and the most balanced and least in pain.”
And after seeing the movie’s trailers (it premieres on July 8), fans definitely noticed her new physique. “Going to go see that new thor movie just for natalie portman’s arms,” one person tweeted. “Love and Thunder ... is that just the movie title or is it what Natalie Portman’s Thor calls her left and right arms?” another wrote.
Portman told USA Today that she finds the reactions funny, but her co-star Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie, added that the portrayal of such strength—as a woman—is a significant stride in representation.
“There’s something very visceral about seeing a woman just look really, really strong and muscular, and how it upends those ideas around gender and gender expectations,” she said.
And while Portman did put in the work to play the part, she admitted that some “movie magic” also helped her pull it off. “It’s not like even then, that I looked like I do in the movie,” she said.
But we’re not even mad about that, because she got the hammer. And that’s what matters.
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