Ms. Portman eloquently described by co-star Jason Bateman: Natalie...she's marriage destroying good
That is a direct quote from Jason Bateman, who was also at this press day. But it really does sum up how awesome Natalie Portman is. So even her fellow stars have the Natalie Portman crush groove going, it's not just us web geeks, with our perverse Star Wars fantasies. You know, the one where Queen Amidala needs to be rescued, and you just happen to be the only Jedi in the temple, and there's nothing to wear but a loin cloth, and the lightsaber rack is empty except for the big...anyway, back to the movie. Read below for some choice excerpts from Natalie's press conference.
Did making this film take you back to your childhood?
Natalie Portman: It did take me back to my childhood in a way. I started working when I was 11, but I was never in a kids movie. And all of a sudden I'm in a kids movie, but I don't get kid treatment because I'm the grown up. I have to work as many hours as they want. There's no limit. I don't get a few hours off for tutoring. I don't get a longer lunch. All the perks of being a kid, I was sort of left out of.
Your most recent work, V for Vendetta and "Goya's Ghosts" have scenes where you are tortured. Was "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" a calculated choice to do more audience friendly films?
Natalie Portman: Interesting question. It really wasn't that. I'm just trying to do stuff that's different all the time. I had the unfortunate position of having that in "Goya" and then in "V". I just want to do stuff that's different and challenging in different ways. This script was like a no-brainer when I read it. I immediately called Zach [Helm, the director] and was like, "I'm in. You tell me when."
Did you have to change your demeanor because you weren't on the set of an R-rated movie?
Natalie Portman: Yeah, I've got a toilet mouth over here [laughs]. It was definitely appealing to me that I could make a movie that I could take my friends' kids to and that kids could enjoy, but that also I thought was something that I really related to. It's a character whose struggle was something I really understood and I think is really relevant to people my age. I also thought this really has so much in it that will interest parents. There's a lot of adult stuff, too.
How was it working with the children?
Natalie Portman: The thing that is cool about kids, which, I think, is part of what the movie is about, is how a kid will see everything as new and special and exciting and magic. When you see a movie set through a kid's eyes, they notice the things that you start taking for granted as being strange. They're like, "Wait, this is a toy store why can't I play with the toys? Why can't I move the toys from one place to another?" One kid, the kid who was coloring next to me, Liam, he was like, "I don't want to color with green anymore. I want to color with red." And we were like, "But the continuity, you've got to keep coloring with the same color." It was so weird. He kept being like, "Why does that lady keep asking the same question?" So when you get that kind of energy it's great, it sort of makes you look at everything a little bit more uniquely.
What was it like working with such a great actor like Dustin Hoffman?
Natalie Portman: Dustin is such an original and unique person that it was just a completely different relationship than I've ever had with anybody else. He's just so wonderful and has such a combination of being a mentor and a colleague and a parent and a friend and a kid, all of those things. There are many different levels to it, both in the movie and in the professional working relationship.
What were your favorite toys growing up?
Natalie Portman: I was a big fan of Tub Toys. I was full into all the 80's toys: the Cabbage Patch Kid, the My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite. All of that stuff was fully in my sphere. And I did love the toys in the movie. The weird thing was the really simple, not-flashy stuff was the stuff that I got obsessive about. I loved the bouncy balls. I'd addictively bounce them. Now I'm admitting it because they can't really come after me, but there was this barrel of squishy lizards, like stress-ball lizards. I took a lot of those.
What are some of the kid films you loved?
Natalie Portman: I'm trying to think. My childhood obsession from age eight was not a kids movie, was Dirty Dancing. I'd watch it 400 times. I watched a lot of musicals, like The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," those kinds of movies.
Was it tough being a child actress? Do you feel like there's stuff you missed out on because you were working?
Natalie Portman: I'm very happy with how everything worked out for me and I feel very, very lucky. There's also this crazy thing that almost all of the actresses working today in my age range started out as kids. If you look at Lindsay Lohan, Scarlett Johannson, Keira Knightley, Kirsten Dunst, Christina Ricci, Claire Danes, or Reese Witherspoon, all of us started really young. Most of us started between 8 to 10 years old, so it clearly gives people help if they want to do it as adults. I have awesome parents, but now seeing a lot of kid actors, it makes me worried. Most kids get put into it because their parents are there to take some of their money. That's usually the motivation, which, obviously, was not my case and that's why I think I've been lucky. I definitely did miss out on a lot of kid things, but everyone has their different path and it's not something that I'm like, "Oh, I missed my childhood." I played and had fun. I was that kind of kid anyway. I always wanted to be a grown up.
Actress Marcia Gay Harden said you were an example of what's good about young Hollywood today. Do you feel any pressure or expectations getting such high praise?
Natalie Portman:I'm just trying to be a good person, and make mistakes; and hope they don't end up in a newspaper. You can't stop being a flawed person. You have to fall on your face a lot. I've been lucky that most of my big falls have been missed by the tabloids. I think it's a tricky thing and I don't think that it's not necessarily a positive thing that's happening with how young people are working and seeking that sort of attention and getting that sort of attention, that then changes them.
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is in theaters today!