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Interview with Natalie Portman

From "Garden State"


Natalie Portman Garden State

Natalie Portman stars in "Garden State"

Photo © Fox Searchlight
Did you all hang out a lot on set of "Garden State?"
Yeah, I mean, your trailer is like a bathroom without a toilet, so it’s much better to stay on the set between takes and hang out. We all really had fun hanging out with each other and were like friends. I think you feel that energy in the movie too, a bunch of friends hanging out.

Do you have any personal experience of going home and reuniting with friends, like we see in this movie?
Not really because my friends are still my friends from when I was like 12. Like all my best friends are my friends from high school and then college. But I’ve been their friends throughout so it’s not like I have any estrangement from people.

Is it a release to do a small film after a big one like “Star Wars?”
Well, it definitely brings you down to the essential elements. I mean, there aren’t explosions or battles or special effects. It’s really about the characters and the story and that’s it - and their relationships. So yeah, it definitely makes it more concentrated, where all the energy’s concentrated in this one thing instead of dispersed over this larger scene.

Does that visibility allow you to do smaller films?
Absolutely. It’s a wonderful opportunity that I’ve had to be in those films because it does get people more familiar with you and maybe, hopefully, [it] would make them see other things that you’re working on.

Are you finished doing “Episode III?”
I finished principal photography on the third one last summer, like a year ago, and we do reshoots in a month. In London.

Will you be glad when it’s over?
I think everything, every end in any phase of your life is always - there’s always an excitement to start something new, a new phase and always a little bit of sadness of leaving the last phase.

Do you have better chemistry with Hayden Christensen this time?
Yeah, I mean, we I think we both really work well off each other. He’s a great actor and he did a really great job in this. Yeah, I think we worked really hard on this one and we all were really comfortable.

What’s your next film?
It’s called “Closer.” Mike Nichols directed it. It’s coming out December 2nd, and it’s with Clive Owen and Jude Law and Julia Roberts. And we just play four individuals who have very complex relationships, speaking of.

What’s working with Mike Nichols like versus other directors?
Mike is, well, I’ve known him for like six years now. We did “The Seagull” together a few years ago in Central Park. And it’s just so amazing to work with someone who’s…I mean, he’s like one of my best friends. And he’s literally, like, I have a problem with a boyfriend or a friend or life or decisions or what movie to do, or where to go on vacation, he’s the one I go to running. He’s my best friend, he’s my mentor, he’s like a father. He’s like the father I can talk to about boys because he’s not actually my father. He’s just wonderful. Working with someone I know that well was really freeing too because I just trusted him so much that I was like, “I’ll do anything.” And I just know that he has me in his best interests and I have him in my best interests and so I’m willing to give him anything because I know that he’ll make it okay.

Is there any stage role you’re yearning to do?
I’d love to do something contemporary by a new, current writer. That would be really exciting, so it’s not like a particular role. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to play these really challenging parts, but I’d love to do something challenging and contemporary because all the stuff I’ve done is period on stage.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
I am starting a film called “The Smoker” in the fall that Richard Linklater is doing.

Are you smoking?
No, it’s actually - I think they might change the title because the title comes from the short story and the purpose of it, it’s like the smoker is the teacher’s room that they all smoke in at the school and that’s not really explained in the script anymore. So I don't know, the title might change unless they can explain it somehow. It’s not really about a smoker.

Will you be playing Lois Lane in the “Superman” movie?
You know, I haven’t heard anything about it personally. I know there’s rumors about it online because reporters keep asking about it, but I don’t really know. I haven’t read it or anything.

How tough was it to make the transition from being a child actress to an adult?
I just try and do stuff that’s different, stuff that keeps me interested, learning new things, trying new things and having new experiences. I’ve been really lucky to get to keep working throughout and get to go to school and have a regular growing up experience too ,which I think has been really helpful because I’ve gotten to develop myself too. It’s not just like I get to play other people all the time. I’ve had time to figure out who I am and get a sense, not that that’s ever done, but that I’ve had that time for myself too.

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