Can Natalie Portman teach you how to act?

Madhvi Ramani
6 min readMar 2, 2020

Should you do Natalie Portman’s Masterclass on acting, or watch Zoolander instead? Rina Grob considers.

Actress Natalie Portman laughing
Natalie Portman, Masterclass

As you know, I’m struggling a bit with my ambitious plan to do one Masterclass a week, so I outsourced one to my brilliant and funny friend Rina Grob. Rina was the perfect choice to do Natalie Portman’s Masterclass on Acting because she’s studied drama and worked in the theatre, film and creative industries. Also, she can’t stand Natalie Portman.

Here’s her review.

I should preface this by saying I can’t consciously remember ever seeing a Natalie Portman film. In fact that first thing I did before starting this masterclass was to Google her to make sure this was correct. I think I saw Garden State once? You know, like every angsty vaguely emo-child of the naughties, but honestly who knows? Could have been a different film, starring any other brown-haired white couple. And before any of you @ me about this, no, I haven’t seen Star Wars and I don’t care. It doesn’t interest me and I don’t think I’m missing anything.

But wait, apparently she was in Zoolander? Now this cinematic masterpiece I have seen. For the life of me I can’t remember her right now. More Googling, and oops — it turns out I’ve also seen Darjeeling Limited, which I love. Again don’t @ me and call me out for being a hypocrite. I am only human.

I never really paid any attention to Natalie Portman until she was mentioned on my favourite podcast Reply All, episode 137. The show referenced her rumoured emotional affair with Jonathan Safran Foer, and showed them both to be highly privileged out-of-touch individuals with a cringeworthy need to display their intellect. This impression of her was sealed when she turned up at the Oscars wearing a Dior cape embroidered with barely legible names of snubbed female directors. A cape she promptly took off once she was inside the venue. As Rose McGowan pointed out, Portman owns a production company which has only ever hired one female director — Portman herself. And Portman has only ever worked with one other female director in her long career.