Natalie Portman is many things: an Oscar-winning actress, a mother, a fearless collaborator. And, in "Thor: The Dark World," she gets to be something else altogether: a fish out of water.
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The sequel to 2011's surprisingly effective "Thor," which saw the Norse God of Thunder (and, apparently, superhero), played by the rugged Chris Hemsworth, displaced on Earth after enraging his father (Anthony Hopkins). On Earth, Thor learned humility. He also got to stomp around and wonder aloud what coffee was. It was pretty cute.
In "Thor: The Dark World," though, it's Portman's turn to feel uncomfortably out of place. As Jane Foster, a brilliant scientist who is dealing with anomalies in the space-time continuum and the heartache of her otherworldly boyfriend leaving for galaxies unknown. After she is infected with a terrible cosmic weapon, Thor brings her to Asgard, his home world, where Jane gets to interact with all of the craziness there.
We got to talk to Portman about whether or not she was a superhero fanatic from the start, if she wanted her character to just go ahead and die in this one, and if she draws any parallels between her work in the medieval comedy "Your Highness" and what she does as part of the Marvel Universe.
WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead.
Moviefone: Were you a comic book fan as a kid?
Natalie Portman: You know, it wasn't really a part of my growing up, I'm ashamed to say.
You didn't come back for "Avengers." Was that always the plan? That you'd sit that one out and come back for "Thor 2"?
Yeah, I knew that I was in the second "Thor," and that was exciting because we had all the raw material -- that Thor is back on Earth and doesn't make contact with her, so there's all this opportunity for conflict, which is fun.
Did you have a list of things you wanted to do with your character if you got to come back?
[Laughs] Um... no. I guess the focus was that Jane has to have her own life and since we've seen where Thor has been, so to kind of imagine where Jane has been was the main focus.
"Thor" seemed to work well because it was like the Marvel version of "Splash," with the character going through this crazy fish-out-of-water thing. You get to do a little bit of that when you go to Asgard. Was that fun?
Yeah, it was. It was scary because I felt like I stood out. I was very out of place, but it's very helpful because she is the only Earthling there. She doesn't have any of the clothes or the powers that anyone else has.
You get to be involved in the action more this time. How was that?
It was great. It was nice to have people feel that it's not just the superheroes but the mortals that get to save the world.
And you get to hit Loki!
Yes, I do!
What was working with Tom Hiddleston like and how was shooting that scene?
Tom is just so, so awesome. He's one of the great people to work with. He's so fun and funny and smart and talented and he's just phenomenal. And it was so great to slap him because he really let me go for it and always had a cheeky response and punctuated it well.
You come close to getting axed in this movie. Was there any part of you that just wanted your character to die?
Was there any part of me that wanted her to die? Ummmmm... I mean, I was up for wherever the story is going to take us.
Have they teased you as to where your character is headed?
I have no idea. I know very, very soon, before shooting what the story is.
Do you have any places you want your character to go or where you want the series to go? I know you were wonderfully outspoken about wanting more female characters in the series.
I think the Marvel people really know what they're doing, I have to say. And I think that they're really creating impressive female characters. I learned about the Bechdel Test soon before shooting, and I was really excited that we have these female characters discussing science with other another, that they're discussing things that aren't about a guy. And that's a great quality. I think that Marvel cares a lot about continuing that.
Did you get to work with Mr. Whedon at all?
I did, a little bit. He came for a few days and he was wonderful. It was really great to get to meet him.
You're going to be in one or more of Terrence Malick's upcoming movies. Do you have any idea if you're going to make the cut? And what was it like working with him?
I have absolutely no idea where those are in the process. All I know is that they're editing right now. But I have no idea when they're coming out. And working with him was incredible. He's a great, great, great man and really had a lot of impact on me in terms of what filmmaking could be.
So, if you got cut completely you wouldn't care?
Anything he feels is right for the story, I'm thrilled with. The experience had such a great impact on me and that is what I'll take away.
I just want to touch upon the fact that you've been in the medieval fantasy world before in "Your Highness." Does it feel good that that movie is finally starting to amass the cult following it deserves?
I didn't know that the cult was starting. I am not aware of that. But I loved making that movie. Those guys are my favorites. I love David Green and Danny McBride. Those are two of the best guys I've ever worked with.
But Franco's pretty much an a*hole.
No! The only reason I left him out was because I didn't have scenes with him. So Franco and Zooey are also awesome, but I didn't get to work with them much. Danny and David I got to work with quite a lot and are awesome. And I love that movie. So it's cool that other people like it. Sometimes I like things that aren't really popular and I'm like, "Oh man, I'm a weirdo." So it's nice to think other people think it's cool, too.