Natalie Portman will be in select theaters on Friday playing the title role in Jackie, director Pablo Larrain’s drama about Jackie Kennedy in the days following her husband’s assassination. It’s a role that could very well earn Portman another Oscar nomination (after her win for 2010’s Black Swan). But according to the actress, those meaty roles come along all too rarely. In an interview with New York magazine, Portman, 35, complained that contemporary Hollywood films don’t make great female characters a priority.
“There are not great female roles that are just flourishing,” Portman said.
Playing Jackie Kennedy, the actress immersed herself in mid-century American culture, and believes that the opportunities for women in film were actually better in the ’50s and ’60s. “Even if they’ll make the occasional sexist comment, they still have a central woman character who has a personality,” she said, citing films like Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard and Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie. “Now I feel like movies are all about white men and then you get a couple that happen to be about women.”
Portman tried to do her part to correct this balance by becoming a producer, but her first big endeavor, the western Jane Got a Gun, was a box-office failure plagued with production problems. “I am not a producer,” she admitted. “This is not my talent in life.”
She did, however, get some decent reviews for her 2016 directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness. And while she has leaned away from Hollywood in recent years, she’s still seeking out those great female roles — the next one being the part of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a film about the Supreme Court justice’s early years as an ACLU lawyer. For that movie, she insisted on finding a female director, who has been chosen but not yet announced. “With the issues of gender discrimination in Hollywood right now, how could we not do that?” she said.
Discrimination against women in Hollywood is currently the subject of a federal investigation.
Watch the trailer for ‘Jackie:’