For “Thor: Love and Thunder,” Natalie Portman not only returns as Jane Foster – the brilliant astrophysicist and ex-girlfriend of Asgardian warrior Thor (Chris Hemsworth) – but as Mighty Thor, the superhero character of Jane when she comes into possession of the mystical hammer Mjolnir.
Becoming a Marvel Studios Hero meant Portman worked with a trainer for 10 months before and during filming to build muscle mass in ways he had never been asked to before.
“I’ve definitely gotten as big as I’ve ever been,” Portman shared for Varietythe cover story. “You realize, ‘Oh, it must be so different, traveling the world like that.'”
Portman means that literally. Along with having his arms and shoulders as pumped up as possible, Portman’s Mighty Thor also stands 6 feet tall, nearly 10 inches taller than Portman’s actual height.
“As a 5-foot-3 woman, I don’t know if I’ll be cast again for a 6-foot character,” Portman said with a laugh. “I really appreciated that people saw me as big.”
To this day, no one has figured out how an actor can safely lengthen their body, so director Taika Waititi and his team had to figure out how to get Portman to the right height for the scenes in which she walked with her co-stars. Their solution turned out to be about as low-tech as a Marvel movie can get.
“We would rehearse the scene, they would see the path, and then they would build a path that was a foot off the ground or whatever, and I would just walk on it,” Portman explained.
When Variety Asked Portman co-star Tessa Thompson — who’s reprising her role as Valkyrie from 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok” — about Portman’s Mighty Thor embiggen process, the actor immediately burst out laughing.
“They called it a deck, but depending on the accent, sometimes it sounded like something else,” Thompson recalled. “Because we are all children.”
“That was actually one of our running jokes,” Portman said before jumping up from his chair with a smile. She began demonstrating how Hemsworth would contort her body to cross the bridge during filming without breaking her stride. “Chris should…” she said before attempting to take a big step while keeping her head up. She laughed, “They should all be sailing my deck!”
The experience of becoming a Marvel superhero also gave Portman a new perspective on what Hemsworth had to do for over a decade to maintain his Asgardian physique.
“It’s a pretty intense and pretty disciplined lifestyle to get to this look,” she said. “Chris works so, so hard. Just constantly, every time he has a break, he has to do some kind of workout. … It’s also meals, saunas, ice baths and sleep, all that so that everything goes well. It’s a full-time job!