Method Acting Is a “Luxury Women Can’t Afford”

At last night’s Golden Globes, Jared Leto earned some laughs for poking fun at his reputation for Method acting, joking that he had been getting into the mindset of an award-presenter for weeks. The bit got some good laughs, but today, a new conversation about Method acting has emerged thanks to Natalie Portman, who described the approach as a “luxury women can’t afford.”

The comments arrived in a new interview Portman gave to The Wall Street Journal, in which she explained that, though she’s gone above and beyond to prepare for roles, she’s never employed Method acting. “I think it’s honestly a luxury that women can’t afford,” she said. “I don’t think that children or partners would be very understanding of, you know, me making everyone call me ‘Jackie Kennedy’ all the time.”

It’s true, Portman has done some serious prep work in the past. For 2010’s Black Swan, she intensively trained as a ballerina and radically altered her diet, an exhaustive effort that took up over a year of her life. But as she sees it, the level of eccentric behavior that folks are willing to accept from a male actor is higher than what’s acceptable for non-male actors. Leto, for example, went full Joker when he appeared in 2016’s Suicide Squad, sending anal beads, used condoms, and other disgusting things to his cast-mates.

“No matter the circumstances of a woman’s life, whether she’s very privileged or underprivileged, the uniting factor is the limits placed by society on what women can be, how they can behave, what they’re allowed to say and think and feel and do,” Portman told The Wall Street Journal. “So every woman’s story is somehow trying to break free of [that].”

Some women, however, have employed Method acting, like Carey Mulligan, who recently opened up about her experiences stepping into the mind of Felicia Montealegre Bernstein for the Leonard Bernstein biopic, Maestro. Her co-star, Bradley Cooper, encouraged her to do it. “He was like, ‘If you’re going to do this, you just have to fully, fully do it,’” she told Variety. “When he said that, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to absolutely do it all.’ I’m going to do all the research. I’m going to do all the dialect stuff. I’m going to do everything, so that when I get on set, I am 100%.”

Nonetheless, the comments from Portman feel appropriate in light of her recent role in May December, in which she portrays an actor attempting to get into the headspace of a thirtysomething teacher who seduced a 13-year-old. The film premiered this past November, and was nominated for four Golden Globes.

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