I imagine there’s nothing more terrifying for an actress than playing someone so iconic, so ingrained in the public’s conscious, that you can’t possibly live up to our expectations. Especially since it so often fails. See, for example, Nicole Kidman’s Grace Kelly: Grace of Monaco opened last year’s Cannes Film Festival, but it’s premiering on Lifetime later this month. Naomi Watts said she regretted playing Princess Diana after the move bombed at the box office, and when Katie Holmes took on the role of Jackie Kennedy (twice!), Newsweek—in one of the kinder reviews—wrote that she “doesn't really have the gravitas to pull off the role.”
On the other hand, playing the women who’ve shaped history must be irresistible. Kennedy in particular has attracted a long line of women from Holmes to Ginnifer Goodwin, Minka Kelly to Jacqueline Bisset, Kennedy’s accent, style, and yes, gravitas, are oft imitated on screen. And now Natalie Portman, who’s been rumored to be trying her hand at the character for over three years now, will play the First Lady in a film about the first few days after her husband’s assassination. Darren Aronofsky, who directed Portman to a Best Actress Oscar for Black Swan, was originally supposed to direct his then girlfriend, Rachel Weisz, in the title role in Jackie. In 2010, Weisz told MTV.com, “It’s a very beautiful script… I’m thrilled at the idea of working with [Aronofsky] again."
But then they broke up and the script disappeared—until now. Variety reports that Aronofsky will stay on as producer, while Pablo Larrain (who’s currently directing Nerudo about Spanish poet Pablo Neruda) will direct the movie, which will start filming at the end of this year. The pressure might be on for Portman, but what about the costume designer? No other first lady has had such iconic, influential, and signature style. The myths surrounding that famous pink suit alone—was it Chanel or a knockoff?—is enough to consume a wardrobe department. Chris Hargadon, who did the costumes for the Reelz mini-series starring Holmes, called the project "daunting." He says, "One thing that we were blessed with is that the Kennedys are among the most documented families in the world, right from the early 1920s. There is no lack of visual reference. As the decades progressed there was also moving footage. Even if the footage was black and white, I could ascertain the color or tone of the clothing just by looking at enough research. So we were able to reproduce the garment and its entire pattern.”
Click through to see what Jackie’s looked like on screen.