Port­man plays an icon

At last we get to see how events must have hit JFK's widow

Life & Style Weekend - - SCREEN LIFE - Jackie opens na­tion­ally on Thurs­day. SCREEN LIFE with Neala John­son, News Corp

PLAY­ING a real-life fairy­tale fig­ure isn’t al­ways a path­way to gold as Ni­cole Kid­man and Naomi Watts have dis­cov­ered in re­cent years.

Yet Natalie Port­man’s por­trayal of the wid­owed, grief-stricken yet re­mark­ably com­posed First Lady Jac­que­line Kennedy in the film Jackie has the ac­tor on the fast track to her sec­ond Os­car stat­uette.

The film is set in the days im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy’s as­sas­si­na­tion in 1963.

Port­man pre­vi­ously won the Best Ac­tress Os­car in 2011 for Black Swan and was nom­i­nated for Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tress in 2005 for Closer.

The first full trailer for Jackie, which opens in Aus­tralia on Thurs­day, mixes iconic images and mo­ments (Jackie’s pink pill­box hat, march­ing be­hind the fu­neral pro­ces­sion) with more in­ti­mate mo­ments of shell shock and sor­row (Jackie fi­nally re­mov­ing her blood­stained stock­ings, with her chil­dren).

While Port­man used ex­ten­sive re­search to nail the First Lady’s dis­tinc­tive voice and walk, she has said “por­tray­ing how she felt takes imag­i­na­tion”.

Port­man has called the film much more of a “col­lage” than a straight-ahead biopic.

The trailer gives just a taste of its ex­per­i­men­tal ap­proach, in­clud­ing fre­quent close-ups that meant Port­man spent much of the shoot with a lens only cen­time­tres from her face.

The drama fo­cuses on the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the JFK shoot­ing, days in which Jackie at­tempts to both cope with the tragedy and pro­tect and se­cure her hus­band’s legacy.

IndieWire has called Port­man an “emo­tional su­per­con­duc­tor” in the role; The Guardian “al­to­gether as­ton­ish­ing”; and The Hollywood Re­porter “never-bet­ter” and “in­can­des­cent”.

Port­man, who is ex­pect­ing her sec­ond child, has spo­ken of her fear in tack­ling such an icon.

“It was def­i­nitely scary,” the ac­tor told MovieMaker Mag­a­zine. “I’ve never prided my­self on any abil­ity to mimic or im­i­tate ... I was like, ‘Oh no; I’m set­ting my­self up for fail­ure big time here’.”

She com­bated that fear with her re­search – “look­ing at ev­ery video I could find and read­ing ev­ery book I could find and lis­ten­ing to au­dio­tapes of her in­ter­views,” she told Van­ity Fair.

The 35-year-old emerged from the project with a new re­spect for the First Lady the pub­lic didn’t know.

“The in­ner strength it took to be that com­posed to the world, (I see that) as a gift to the world, be­cause she un­der­stood how sym­bolic her re­ac­tions to all of these events would be while she was ob­vi­ously crum­bling in­side.”

LA-based awards anal­y­sis site awards­daily.com has Port­man listed as a lead­ing Best Ac­tress con­tender, along with Emma Stone for La La Land and Amy Adams for Ar­rival, in what is con­sid­ered a highly com­pet­i­tive field this year.

The site’s founder Sasha Stone says: “Natalie Port­man as Jackie is a per­for­mance that needs to be seen to be be­lieved.”

Jackie won buzz and praise at the Cannes and Venice film fes­ti­vals this year and Port­man was re­cently nom­i­nated for Golden Globe and SAG awards for best ac­tress.

The 2017 Os­car nom­i­na­tions vot­ing opened this past week. The nom­i­nees will be an­nounced on Jan­uary 24 and the awards will be held on Fe­bru­ary 27 AEST.

PHOTO: WIL­LIAM GRAY

Cas­par Phillip­son and Natalie Port­man in a scene from the movie Jackie.

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