26 March 2006
By ELLEN DAVIES
Portman's close shave
V for Vendetta is already known as that movie where Natalie Portman loses her hair. The film – from the creators of the Matrix trilogy – required her to shave her head on camera for her role as Evey.
Set in the future, Portman plays a woman who gets involved in a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament to free the country's citizens from a totalitarian regime.
At the film's London premiere, Portman said of the hair shaving: "For the character it's a very traumatic experience because it's a violence committed upon her.
"But for me, I got to choose to do it so I didn't feel like it was a violence committed against me.
"It was actually kind of wonderful to throw vanity away for a little bit. As a woman you're always expected to be primping and preening yourself so it was a pretty nice opportunity to be not thinking about that stuff for a while."
And Portman reckons she has had to change her entire image to accommodate her new look.
"My favourite thing is that I have very funny ears and they are always on display now.
"I have to go very simple with my choices of clothes now and I don't wear lipstick or jewellery, otherwise I overwhelm my head."
Growing her hair is high maintenance – but does have its advantages.
"I've been going to the hairdresser pretty often, otherwise I look like a science experiment.
"Short hair's easy. It feels grown-up."
V For Vendetta tells the story of a young working-class woman called Evey, who is rescued from a life and death situation by a masked man who is known only as `V'.
While Natalie had to shave her head, Aussie actor Hugo Weaving, who plays V, also had image issues – he had to do his entire performance behind a mask.
Without the facial expression and eye contact that are usually essential for an actor, Weaving had to find other ways to animate V.
"I loved doing mask work at drama school a long time ago and making V's mask work on screen was a great acting challenge," he says.
"You need to convey a lot through voice but there are also small, fluid movements to give the mask a life it might not otherwise have had.
"It was also a question of trying to work out what the mask says in different light and with various shadings." Portman explains how she sees the character of V.
"In the film, V is described as an idea rather than person.
"One of the reasons he is so invincible is because you can kill a man, but an idea can't be killed.
"So V represents truth, resistance and individualism.
"But his vengeance taints his political idealism."