Natalie Portman’s First Post-Oscar Role: Two Terrence Malick Films

Following her Best Actress Oscar victory for The Black Swan, Natalie Portman took maternity leave so she could raise her child, like any responsible mother would. After a year, the hiatus is over: Deadline reports that she’s just signed on to star in two Terrence Malick films, both set to shoot this year. For the first, Knights of the Cups, she’ll join Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Isabel Lucas; in the second, Lawless, she’ll be alongside Bale, Blanchett, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara and Haley Bennett. No plot details are forthcoming, of course, just the way Malick likes it. 

It’s not the first mysterious Malick project of recent: We’re still waiting to here on the as-yet untitled Ben Affleck-starring flick  that he shot after finishing last year’s The Tree of Life. That one, in case your memory isn’t so firm, is about a ladies’ man (Affleck) who enters a string of (I presume) emotionally complicated relationships with two women, played by Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams. It’s supposed to be the only film Malick’s shot that takes place in the present day, but with little progress announced following a few 2011 reports, it’s hard to say anything else. Considering Malick’s pedigree it’s easy to see why so many actors want to work with him, but it is a little surprising that he’s so openly embraced this generation of Hollywood actors factoring in his penchant for snubbing the Hollywood industry. With two Oscar nominations for The Tree of Life — Best Picture and Best Director — maybe he’s just feeling the love.

The streak of productivity is new, but reassuring: Malick famously spent 20 years in the wild before returning to showbiz with The Thin Red Line, followed by another seven before 2005’s The New World. With three projects in secretive development, maybe Malick is just trying to cash in all of his film chits before death finds its way into his backyard. But not to get depressing: below, watch the uplifting final scene from The New World, still one of the most — fuck it — elegiac things I’ve ever seen in a movie.

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