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Greta Gerwig and Natalie Portman on the “Universal” Connection That Still Links Them

In Reunited, Awards Insider presents a conversation between two Oscar contenders who have collaborated on a previous project, in which we catch up with Greta Gerwig, who co-wrote and directed Barbie, and Natalie Portman, who stars in May December. They previously collaborated on No Strings Attached and Jackie.

Natalie Portman and Greta Gerwig have portrayed close friends in two movies that could not have been more different: 2011’s No Strings Attached and 2016’s Jackie. Although their career paths have diverged since then, it’s evident that their genuine friendship extended beyond the screen when they reconnect for this Reunited Zoom chat.

Their 45-minute chat is filled with laughter, at times veering off into nostalgic reminiscence about their past projects. Yet, they also delve into the intriguing parallels of their careers.

Portman directed the 2015 movie A Tale of Love and Darkness and has also established herself as a full-fledged producer, co-founding the production company MountainA in 2021. The Academy Award-winning actor served as a producer for her latest film, May December, in which she delivers a captivating performance as an actor studying a controversial subject (Julianne Moore) for her next project.

Gerwig has transitioned from an indie-darling actor to an incredibly successful writer-director. After penning and directing Lady Bird and Little Women (both of which garnered best-picture Oscar nominations), Gerwig co-wrote and directed the highest-grossing film of 2023, Barbie, now a leading contender during awards season.

Their paths have intersected in other unexpected ways, such as when Portman had Gerwig’s name embroidered on part of her 2020 Oscars outfit as a tribute to the female directors who were snubbed; Gerwig acknowledges that they remain connected in a “universal way.” Here, they reunite to divulge the wise counsel they’ve exchanged over the years, amusing revelations about each other (like unforeseen cat allergies), and how they each ultimately committed to pursuing their passions behind the camera.

Vanity Fair: What are your recollections of your initial encounter?

Greta Gerwig: It was during No Strings Attached. I distinctly recall, for some reason, the individual handling my makeup applied an excessive amount, all the time. And I observed you and thought, She looks stunning. I’m not sure if I need this much makeup right now, but…

Natalie Portman: I feel we were both dismayed about our footwear. They kept putting me in flat sneakers and Greta in elevated clogs. I was starting to resemble a character from Lord of the Rings.

Gerwig: During the hospital [scene], it was a walk-and-talk and they couldn’t capture us in the frame. And I thought, That’s because I’m inexplicably wearing five-inch clogs. And she’s in running shoes. We look ridiculous. It was enjoyable. It was comical and absurd. And you had just finished Black Swan.

Portman: I was eating again. I was like, Food!

Gerwig: I recall you in the trailer too. You always knew when it was meal time.

Portman: That’s just a constant. I’m still like that. Always have been.

Gerwig: You transitioned from something so intense and then it was this sort of lighthearted thing to do.

Natalie, was that deliberate at that time, or was it purely by chance?

Portman: It was coincidental. There’s very little in my life that’s deliberate. I wish I could say, “Yes, I like to balance my career,” but it’s simply a matter of things happening or not happening.

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