Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman is speaking up for women as she joins fellow Hollywood actors at the Cannes Film Festival.

At a press conference for her new movie, May December, on Sunday, she talked about the film’s portrayal of performative femininity. She said, “The whole film is so much about performance and the different roles we play in different environments, for different people, for ourselves, even.”

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In it, Portman plays an actor researching a woman (played by Julianne Moore) for an upcoming movie project.

Portman said that as people, we take on and are expected to play different roles, not only onscreen, but also in so many parts of our real lives. “This aspect of, even here—the different ways we as women are expected to behave at this festival even compared to men,” she continued. “How we’re supposed to look, how we’re supposed to carry ourselves.”

Natalie Portman
Photo: Getty Images

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“The expectations are different on you all the time and it affects how you behave, whether you’re buying into it, whether you’re rejecting it or whether you’re doing something in between,” Portman added. “You’re definitely defined by the social structures upon you.”

The actress didn’t go into detail about the double standards she alluded to—but she has in the past.

In 2019, while promoting her science-fiction drama Lucy in the Sky (based on a true story about a female astronaut who has trouble transitioning back into normal life on Earth after her mission), Portman noted that women and men are not often celebrated for the same qualities.

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“The same behaviour can be categorised completely differently between men and women, and that’s sort of what happens in the movie,” Portman said in an interview for the BUILD Series. “The first men who went to space, they agreed to strap themselves to a bomb … They’re all so brilliant, scientists and pilots and engineers, but they also were daredevils. Then when [Portman’s character] does something that’s kind of daredevil … she’s reprimanded for it as being reckless. So you see that … the same qualities that might be celebrated in one might be put down in another gender.”

This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US.