In a new interview with Variety, Natalie Portman got candid about how she felt when she was asked to bulk up for her return role as Jane Foster in Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder. “On Black Swan, I was asked to get as small as possible,” she said. “Here, I was asked to get as big as possible. That’s an amazing challenge—and also state of mind as a woman.”
As previously reported, Portman was initially reluctant to return to the Thor franchise, and did so only after director Taika Waititi sold her on the Mighty Thor storyline. It was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con back in 2019 that the new film was inspired by the Marvel Comics run in which Jane Foster picks up Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor, and becomes a superhero herself.
Portman’s last appearance in the MCU was actually in Thor: The Dark World. Although her character appeared in Avengers: Endgame, she revealed in the Variety interview that the film just reused cut footage from The Dark World and had her dub different lines. For Portman’s glorious return to screen, this time as the God of Thunder herself rather than the God of Thunder’s girlfriend, she needed to bulk up. According to the interview, Portman started working with a trainer in 2020 in order to get her arms as big and as buff as seen in the movies—something that excited the internet after set photos showcasing Portman’s comparatively brawny arms leaked in 2021.
(Color me one of those impressed internet minds. Just add me to the collective. I saw those photos and I immediately googled “Is Natalie Portman ripped or am I being lied to?” and it turns out that’s just Portman being a badass.) Besides her muscles being larger, the Mighty Thor is also supposed to be six feet tall, which is about 10 inches taller than Portman. The solution was to build her a deck so that she could stand nearly at eye level with the other (naturally) taller Thor, Chris Hemsworth.
Another consideration for the film: since Waititi and Portman revealed their plans for Jane Foster in Thor: Love and Thunder, fans have been asking about the cancer storyline. In the 2014-2015 comic run, Jane Foster is suffering from breast cancer, and whenever she transforms into the Mighty Thor, her disease metastasizes further, effectively killing her faster. Both Portman and Waititi continue to be evasive about this plot point. Speaking to Variety, Portman mentions a duality of the character versus her person, and then stated that being as powerful as Thor “might give you a different perspective on your human life.”
Waititi said, “Part of why [Natalie] wanted to play that character is that she has a dilemma in the book,” and that Jane “has big choices to make within the comic.” It appears that while Waititi is dancing around just coming out and saying whatever he has to say (despite the fact that a cancer plot would not, at this point, be a spoiler, considering the comic came out eight years ago), he mentioned that he and the rest of the team “were all very interested” in remaining true to the dilemmas that Foster faces in the comic.
Thor: Love and Thunder arrives in theaters July 8.
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