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NEW YORK Call Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy anything you want, says Natalie Portman. But don call her a tragic figure.

tragic figure to me is someone who succumbs, says Portman, who is in the thick of awards season talk with her portrayal of the 20th century most famous widow in Jackie.

certainly lived through more tragedy than anyone can imagine. I don think there anyone who ever experienced what she experienced, says Portman. the fact that she was able to pull herself together and be so strong and so thoughtful and so brave amid so much trauma I think that makes her a heroic figure rather than a tragic one. publicity appearances for the film by Pablo Larrain (Neruda) mark the unofficial beginning of a maternity leave (she and her husband, Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied, are expecting their second child).

But the film produced by Black Swan Darren Aronofsky is likely to keep her in designer maternity dresses on red carpets for a while.

It an almost dreamlike study of Jackie swirl of events in the aftermath of JFK assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. Jackie follows the first lady attempt to pour herself into preparations for a grandiose funeral, inspired by Abraham Lincoln interspersed with flashbacks including the grisly obvious one.

Almost first person in its focus, Jackie gives the audience more Portman than she may have ever given. idea with Pablo is he wanted to make the movie so intimate and psychological and get inside her head. Which as an actor means you got the camera right here all the time, she says, putting her hand six inches in front of her nose. can make you self conscious. it was the more practical challenge of portraying one of the most identifiable women in American history that almost scared Portman off from the project. was definitely scary. I never prided myself on any ability to mimic or imitate. If I was offered something like this before, I always say, that not my thing. think, I setting myself up for failure big time. Because people really know what she sounded like and moved like, and of course what she looked like.

I was so moved by the script and by Pablo approach which was to examine the humanity of someone we only considered a symbol that I ended up saying, y we actors, not surgeons. If I mess up, no one going to die. Let do it! worked with a coach, Tanya Blumstein, who was amazing on the dialect and voice. And we listened over and over to the White House Tour (a 1962 televised special in which the first lady showed off her redecorating to the nation), and also the transcripts of her interview with (historian Arthur) Schlesinger. (Recorded in 1962, they formed the basis for much of a fictionalized interview Jackie gives in the movie with a reporter played by Billy Crudup).

And then there was Jackie physicality. walk was really interesting. The main walking we seen is from the White House tour and the funeral (which Jackie insisted be a walk instead of a motorcade).

tend to think she thinking about walking in a regal manner. It quite stiff, almost to an unbelievable degree. You watch the White House tour and it almost like, can really be how she walked. Jackie was, if nothing else, the creator of her own image (and of the Kennedy myth), which is part of the movie narrative.

don know if I can ever say I understand any other human being. The phrase that bugs me the most is, know exactly how you feel. No you don No one knows how anyone feels, we can imagine and that the best we can do.

don claim to have any truth about Jackie. But my imagination is backed up by a lot of research about what happened in those days the historical facts about how the funeral was arranged,
polo t 'Jackie O not a tragic figure'
who was talking to who, and who made what decisions, that all real. It historically close, but there a higher artistic truth you looking for that you find in good fiction

says in the movie that sometimes the characters you create are more real than the people that stand beside you. the most difficult scene to film, Portman says, is one that had to be entirely imagined was another Pablo idea I thought was so brilliant. We all seen the Zapruder film. But it was a seven minute drive afterwards to the hospital. What is it like holding your husband exploded head on your lap? For seven minutes trying to get to the hospital?

we filmed that and it was harrowing. Who can even imagine it? It awful, the worst possible thing that could ever happen. And it was like the coldest day when we shot it. We were on this highway that they had closed down so we could go in this open car, and the poor actor who was playing Clint the security guy was harnessed to the speeding car (ex Secret Service agent Clint Hill remains the only living member of the motorcade). So it was physically difficult and emotionally unimaginable. out the rough patches was the fact that many cast members were personal friends of Portman including Greta Gerwig, who plays Jackie social secretary Nancy Tuckerman, Peter Sarsgaard, who is Robert Kennedy Jr. and John Hurt who was cast as an unnamed Kennedy family priest.

the actors are people I know for a long time, Portman says. worked with Peter before (in Garden State). I worked with Greta before (in the romantic comedy No Strings Attached). John Hurt. Billy (Crudup) I known for a really long time even though we never worked together.

terms of what it brings, I thought that was helpful because they were largely playing people who were close to her.

Greta actually my friend. So there a difference when she hugs me to console me. Having your girlfriend hold you is different than somewhat you just met. It allows for a certain level of intimacy. So we already had this rapport. We didn have to start from scratch. opens in select cities Friday, Dec. 9. It will expand to other cities next month.

STARS WHO HAVE PLAYED JACKIE KENNEDY

A glamorous, iconic First Lady, whose private life was an endless guessing game. It practically a blank slate for an actress, which is why so many have taken on the role of Jackie Kennedy.

As we await the release of Jackie, with Natalie Portman playing the just widowed First Lady in the days after Dallas, here are others who gone full Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

JACQUELINE BISSET TWICE: Okay, in the 1978 movie The Greek Tycoon, she played someone named Liz Cassidy, who was a glam, widowed former First Lady who marries a, um, Greek Tycoon. So yeah, complete fiction. She played Jackie again, by name this time, in the 2003 Fox TV movie America Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story.

JACLYN SMITH: Clearly, when playing Jacqueline, it helps to be named Jacqueline/Jaclyn. The ex Charlie Angel served notice she was more than just a pretty crime solving face by starring in 1981 TV movie Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, earning a Golden Globe nom.

GINNIFER GOODWIN: Once Upon A Time Snow White played Jackie in Killing Kennedy, the 2013 TV movie based on the book by Fox News Bill O MICHELLE GELLAR and ROMA DOWNEY: A pre Buffy Gellar and the future Touched By An Angel star played the teen Jackie and adult Jackie respectively in the 1991 TV movie A Woman Named Jackie.

JEANNE TRIPPLEHORN: She played Jackie opposite Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange in the 2009 HBO film Grey Gardens,
polo t 'Jackie O not a tragic figure'
about Jackie tragic relatives Edie and Edie Bouvier Beale.