Closer : ALICE (Natalie Portman)

“The character of Alice is, in my opinion, Natalie Portman’s arrival as an adult actress,” says Brokaw. “You see her as a fascinating, somewhat mysterious, adult woman who is very sensual and complicated.”

Nichols had first worked with Portman in a production of Chekov’s “The Seagull,” when she was still in her teens. “People don’t quite realize how remarkable an actress she is, because she looks so amazing,” says Nichols, “but she is. I saw her in Closer right from the beginning and she was, in some ways, the beginning of my casting.”

Portman admits, “this is definitely a new kind of role for me.” The key to Alice, she says, is the conflict inherent in her character. “Alice is really alone when she comes to London, so she makes up her entire world, completely creates herself. Yet, she also has this childlike side. She’s really honest and direct in her feelings, which distinguishes her from the other characters. So though she’s lying about her persona, she’s the most direct, honest character in the film.”

Besides tackling the character of a multi-faceted adult woman, Portman also had to take lessons in pole dancing for the film, in which she goes to work in a posh London strip club. “It was fun. I have a whole new respect for pole dancers because it takes a lot of skill and is physically very demanding, a combination of dance and acrobatics,” she says

Despite its risqué elements, for Portman, Closer is a very moral tale. “It examines the way people have relationships with each other and how they sometimes get so lost in them that they are sometimes insensitive to the other person’s feelings.

It’s kind of like ‘I’m in love. I can be irrational now. It doesn’t matter who I hurt.’ So love becomes this weird excuse for doing a lot of hurtful things to other people.”