The Psychology behind “Jackie”

Jan 26, 2017 by Marketing on The Nickelodeon Blog

By: Sarah Nichols

In the past and the present, when America’s First Ladies get media attention, it is often on the beautiful outfits they wore or the china patterns they picked out. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is commonly considered one of America’s most beloved First Ladies, but she crafted her image so well that the public didn’t see much other than her well-polished and composed exterior. However, in Pablo Larraín’s new film “Jackie,” the First Lady is getting the spotlight, and the focus isn’t on her china patterns – it’s on her resilience and character.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis was a woman who knew how to cultivate her image to the American public. Natalie Portman, who portrays her in the film, even remarks that Jackie intentionally crafted her breathy, baby voice to perpetuate her femininity. In more personal videos of her, Portman found that Jackie’s voice loses that breathy quality and sounds deeper. Although Portman claims that she does not consider herself particularly good at accents, she captures Jackie’s fluctuating voice perfectly throughout the film. This is telling of Portman’s deep understanding of Jackie’s character, which in turn allows the audience to understand Jackie better as well.

Jackie was an elegant and glamorous woman, but she was also highly intelligent. She was fluent in three languages and she was even considered a bit of a threat to JFK’s campaign, as she seemed too worldly or atypical from the standard housewife – they were worried this might deter audiences. However, once JFK was inaugurated, the American people clearly adored her charm and enigmatic nature.

“Jackie” primarily focuses on the effects on her character before and after the JFK assassination. Aside from the pop culture obsession and controversy with the JFK assassination is a woman deeply scarred by witnessing her husband’s murder and having to carry her family, her country and herself through that tumultuous time.
Portman’s psychological portrayal of Jackie is what makes the film stand out, even in the trailer. In order to understand such an enigmatic woman better, Portman did extensive research – she researched Jackie’s upbringing and watched videos and interviews of the former First Lady to get into her polished shoes and show modern audiences what she was like.

Portman is nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, and the film is up for the Academy Award for Best Original Music Score. “Jackie” will be screening at the Nick starting on Friday, Jan. 27. For tickets and more information, go to our website.