A few weeks ago we learned that Natalie would have a guest star appearance on “Angie Tribeca,” the sitcom starring Rashida Jones. Well, IndieWire has a review on the first chapters and they reveal the role of Natalie in one of them:
Only a few episodes later, Portman is handed a different, if similar, challenge. The outspoken women’s rights activist is given the role of Mrs. Kraft, a NASA scientist who looks and acts like a ’60s housewife. The fact that she’s not given a first name is as intentional as her assumption that Angie works for Detective Tanner (DJ Cole) simply because he’s a man. Her constant smile, perfect makeup, and bursting baby belly all lend Mrs. Kraft an air of domesticity and her period appropriate surroundings further enforce the patriarchal era of NASA’s heyday.
Knowing how she really feels, one can only imagine Portman would be eager to satirize the sexist trappings of our past by emphasizing their modern parallels. But her line delivery is in keeping with Mrs. Kraft’s reality, not the social commentary her character offers to the audience. When Mrs. Kraft refuses to give a freshly baked cookie to Angie, offering her “a Fresca and a diet pill” instead, Portman whispers the line as if Mrs. Kraft would be embarrassed for Angie that she even thought to take a delicious treat meant for the hard-working men around her.
Now, Portman — an Oscar winner and three-time nominee — is obviously a pro, so complimenting her on understanding the basic concepts of acting may seem reductive. But the distinction she makes here isn’t that she’s playing a character rather than herself; it’s that her character isn’t in on the joke, unlike so many other satiric roles that require their performers to play up the meta connections made by the audience. Portman grasps the tone quickly and then runs away with the scene, her soft inflections and glowing expressions creating a beam of light gliding through the scene. Again, there’s so much more to the scene than celebrity worship, and that’s a credit to the writing as much as the performers.