Jackie movie Jackie movie Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 'Jackie.' (Photo: Jackie)

New ‘Jackie’ trailer proves Portman was the best choice for iconic role

Director Pablo Larraín says Oscar winner's 'mystery' was the essential factor in making the film even possible.

To say there's a great unease when watching the latest trailer for "Jackie" is an understatement. The film, directed by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín, exudes a melancholic sadness that is at once beautiful and jarring in its orbit around a grieving first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. As Larraín explained in an interview from earlier this year, "Jackie" isn't so much a biopic as it is a "study on somebody’s sensibilities, feelings and emotions during a specific period of time."

To bring this intimate portrait of American history to life, Larraín insisted on asking only one person for the role: Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman.

"It was her mystery," Larraín shared with FilmComment. "You sit her in front of the camera, dress her however you need to dress her, get her to look however she has to, ask her to describe everything she feels and everything she’s thinking, and you will still wonder what’s going on. That’s her mystery. That’s a resource in cinema. You never get all the answers. If you do, the game is over."

Besides accurately capturing Mrs. Kennedy's mannerisms and look, the Jerusalem-born Portman also spent a considerable amount of time studying her accent. Like other actors who have transformed themselves for biopic roles, the effect as demonstrated in the trailer is nothing short of mesmerizing.

"Because we were doing an exact replica, I really wanted to get it," Portman told the British site Eye for Film. "You know, even where the hesitations or the pauses or the breaths or the mess-ups [are] like I wanted all of that to be the same. So we listened to that and that I think was the real formative thing for the accent."

Just last week, Portman received an award from the Israeli Film Festival and won the best actress award for "Jackie" at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards, spurring talk of a second Oscar waiting in the wings. In some critics' eyes, however, the film and her performance have already earned their place in cinematic history.

"It's a character study that projects its subject's inner turmoil onto the whole map of the movie," writes Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson. "A final cliché: it's as if we're inside Jackie's head. It's a thrill to have Portman give us a tour."

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