Natalie Portman is best known for her talent, her intellect, her beauty, and her status as a changemaker in Hollywood when it comes to women’s pay and the Time’s Up movement. Now, the actress is also coming back for her previously-underappreciated Marvel role as Jane Foster, Thor’s love interest in the 2011 movie Thor and the 2013 movie Thor: The Dark World. Jane is getting an upgrade and becoming Mighty Thor, a heroine who can use Thor’s hammer Mjolnir!
However, there was one not-exactly-small hiccup: Mighty Thor was meant to be eye-to-eye with Thor since the two are parallels of one another — and Natalie Portman is only five foot three while Chris Hemsworth is over six feet tall.
“On Black Swan, I was asked to get as small as possible,” Portman said in a recent interview. “Here, I was asked to get as big as possible. That’s an amazing challenge — and also state of mind, as a woman.”
Natalie Portman began training with a trainer in 2020 to get in superhero shape, much like all of the actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before her — but Portman had a much bigger challenge! The Academy Award-winner did not just need to look a bit more athletic than usual; she needed to look muscular enough to balance out her diminutive height and small frame so that she and Hemsworth wouldn’t look distractingly out-of-proportion onscreen (Tom Holland faced a similar challenge in Uncharted opposite Mark Wahlberg).
According to the Israeli actress Natalie Portman, becoming bulkier gave her an idea of what it must be like to be Chris Hemsworth (who is renowned for his physique and the work that he puts into looking like Thor). “To have this reaction and be seen as big, you realize, ‘Oh, this must be so different, to walk through the world like this,’” Portman mused. “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.”
The Black Swan actress who plays Jane Foster in the Thor movies did succeed in becoming noticeably more muscular, especially since the focus in her training was arm and shoulder exercises, but there was still no real way to make her suddenly get seven inches taller. For that, special alterations had to be made on set so that Portman could interact with her co-stars eye-to-eye.
“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 or whatever, and I would just walk on that,” Portman told Variety laughingly. “They would call it a deck”. Essentially, the other actors would have to walk alongside Portman, keeping their heads in the same place on camera, but taking giant steps sideways that the camera couldn’t see in order to avoid bumping into her “deck”.
Are you going to keep an eye out in the Marvel Studios movie Thor: Love and Thunder to see if you can notice when Portman’s co-stars are dodging her deck?