Playing Odin, the one-eyed king of Asgard and father to the main character in Thor: The Dark World, was a part time job for Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins.
“I was doing another movie at the same time, Red 2 with Bruce Willis,” he says. “So I didn’t know where I was. Sometimes, while I was waiting for the pick up I’d wonder what I was doing that morning. Today I’m with Bruce until 4 o’clock in the afternoon and then go do a little bit of Thor.”
Although he says Thor’s Marvel comic book roots “is a world that is alien to me” he relished the chance to play Odin for one simple reason. “I love acting,” he says.
“It’s interesting, you go from one actor in a different kind of movie to playing a god in another. I love it.
“People always ask me this, ‘What drew you to the part?’ I say, ‘Well, they offered it to me.’
“The generic answer is, I just like to work. I can’t analyze why a part is good or not. Dress me in the armor and cloak and it makes me look handsome, I guess. I hope.”
He adds the new film “feels different, in a good way,” from the original 2011 installment. “No better, no worse, just different. More earthbound because we filmed in England and the weather is always very dreary and grey there. That’s why I live in California.”
Despite starring in two movies based on a Marvel hero Natalie Portman says, “I’ve never gotten in to comic books.”
This weekend she reprises the role of Jane Foster, scientist and love interest to the God of Thunder in the Thor: The Dark World.
Portman may not have spent time reading comics but she can understand the obsession fans have with Thor’s characters because she was once a fangirl herself.
“The one thing I ever got into like that is really dorky,” she says. “Until I was twelve or thirteen I was obsessed with the Babysitter’s Club, a series of books for girls. There was a new book every month and the day the book would come out I had to go to the bookstore and get it and read it on the way home.
“The writer’s name was Ann M. Martin and my friends and I would look in the phone book and call every Ann Martin trying to get her.
“One time she came to our bookstore and did a signing. The week before I wrote a packet about what her next book should be about, with drawings, and I waited in line for three hours and gave it to her and she was like, ‘OK weirdo.’”
Playing heroine Jane Foster is miles away from her Academy Award winning role in the dark psychological drama Black Swan. Portman admits she “never thought I’d get the chance” to act in a superhero movie, “which is why whenever they ask I say yes.”
Also appealing is the chance to work with Anthony Hopkins, who she describes as “a giant among actors.” She shares several scenes with the veteran actor and says she was “completely intimidated” by him.
“I kept messing up lines around him because I was so nervous but he was so sweet about it. He’d say, ‘That’s a really hard line to say.’”
Many of her scenes with Hopkins take place on Asgard, the celestial planetoid home to Thor and family, which raises the question, Do you believe there is life on other planets?
“That question makes me think of another movie. In Antz all the insects are around a campfire,” she says, laughing, “and they say, ‘Do you think there’s something bigger than us out there?’
“It totally feels like that. Of course there has to be something else out there. I don’t know what it is but it would be completely silly to think that we’re ‘it.’”