Natalie Portman Recalls Having to “Get as Small As Possible” For Black Swan

Natalie Portman with a bob on the red carpet
Photo by Amy Sussman via Getty Images

On a normal day, Natalie Portman stands at 5’3”—maybe 5’5” if she’s wearing heels. And yet, in the upcoming Marvel film Thor: Love and Thunder, the 41-year-old Academy Award winner towers at six feet. The studio took great pains to make her a convincing Mighty Thor, the super hero that her original Thor character, Jane Foster, becomes when she gets her hands on the magical hammer Mjolnir. “We’d rehearse the scene, they’d see the path, and then they’d build a path that was like one foot off the ground,” Portman explained in a new interview with Variety. “I would just walk on that.”

But not all of Portman’s growth was a trick of the eye. When it came to matching the Mighty Thor’s muscly physique, the producers left it up to her. Their instructions to bulk up were the exact opposite of the ones she was given for another film that came to define her career. “On Black Swan, I was asked to get as small as possible,” she said of the 2010 Darren Aronofsky film that won her her Oscar. She ate little more than carrots and almonds all throughout pouring herself into the many ballet lessons and rehearsals, exerting herself to the point that, as she put it in a previous interview, “there were some nights that [she] thought [she] literally was going to die.”

With Thor, it was the exact opposite: “I was asked to get as big as possible,” she continued. “That’s an amazing challenge—and also state of mind as a woman.” To do so, she devoted 10 long months to training, specifically focusing on her shoulders and arms. The internet took note: Fans couldn’t believe their eyes when they got their first look at swole Natalie Portman in the film’s trailer. “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 said. “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.”

Natalie Portman as the Mighty Thor and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder (2022).

Photo by Jasin Boland/Jasin Boland, © Marvel Studios 2022

These days, Portman certainly isn’t as buff as she was when filming Thor. But it may not be the last time we see her looking up to taking on Captain America. She and Marvel director Taika Waititi have already been brainstorming what’s next for Mighty Thor.