Natalie Portman:’ JFK was a great proponent of civil right. Trump is taking us backwards’

The Oscar-tipped star of Jackie talks about playing the widowed first lady of the progressive chairperson and why the new inauguration is an upsetting moment

Natalie Portman enters the screening room wearing black shoes, a black dress and a black cape. The consequence is stylish, if sombre. She could be in mourning. Or perhaps Darth Vader has lured her to the dark side after all.

The effect dissolves when she widens a hand, flashes a blinding smile and discloses a sizeable belly bump. She plonks down in the front row, taking the weight off her legs. Portman is seven months pregnant and taking the brightnes business severely. She looks great.

The actor is enjoying a collision of glad tidings. She has moved back to Los Angeles from Paris, is about to have a second infant( her son, Aleph, was bear in 2011) and is receiving rapturous reviews for her performance in Jackie. If the bookies are right , she might well top it all with an Oscar.

Hence the screening room. Earlier, a few dozen Academy members filed into this discreet Beverly Hills sanctum to watch the Jacqueline Kennedy biopic and hear why they should vote for Portman, as well as others who worked on the movie. Its one small front in the PR-campaign blitz that devours Hollywood during awardings season. Now they are run, the screen is blank and the room is virtually empty.

Campaigning while heavily pregnant youre a trouper, I tell. Portman laughs it off. Its all good. Its not coal mining. After a two-year sojourn in France, Portman, 35, seems happy to be back in LA. Here is much more a place to make art. Its only very inspiring sunlight. A lot of freedom.

Portman in Jackie. Photograph: Pablo Larrains/ Twentieth Century Fox

Portman sips a herbal tea and holds court with grace and wariness, smiling often while weighing each term, with a guardedness that comes after decades in the public eye.

The solemn attire feelings apt. Afterward in the working day, there will be a joint funeral service for Carrie Fisher and her mom Debbie Reynolds, who died a day apart. In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Portman played Princess Leias mother. Queen Padme Amidala was also, of course, missus to Anakin Skywalker before he became Darth Vader.

Portman is now also indelibly associated with the worlds most famous and enigmatic widow. Jackie, directed against Pablo Larran, is an intimate portrait that swirls between John F Kennedys assassination and the grieve first lady making funeral arrangings a week later.

The termination of a progressive presidency, the nation bewildered and anxious, the future uncertain: resonant themes on the cusp of the Donald Trump era. It surely has taken on different meanings because of the context weve landed in, which was completely unexpected and unpredictable, tells Portman. Noah Oppenheim , who wrote the script, has been saying that it displays our country has been through many difficult times, and weve managed to pull through and come out the other aim of the tunnel.

Portman, a vegan and activist for liberal causes, campaigned for Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania. She warned in an October interview that a Trump presidency would be catastrophic, especially for womens rights.

Now, with the casino owner moving into the White House, the actor is more circumspect, though still emphatic. I dont recollect saying it would be a catastrophe but I do think it is a very upsetting moment because of the way he has spoken about girls, about minorities, about immigrants. I dont think that kind of discriminatory speech or behaviour is helpful to bringing people together in a positive way.

She campaigned in what turned out to be a decisive sway state but, like many of us, fell for the polls and punditry which dismissed Trumps opportunities. I didnt sense it myself, and thats maybe part of the problem. We dont interact enough with people from different political persuasions. People tend to hang out with others who guess alike, and it makes you less aware.

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