[Trailer is shown.]
You all have your masks on? What I would advise of anyone who has questions for our panel about to come out, would be a good time to already get on line. Everyone's backstage. I think we're going to go ahead and bring out our guests. First let me introduce to you the star of V FOR VENDETTA, Natalie Portman.
There we go, thank you. Next let me introduce Joel Silver, the producer of V FOR VENDETTA.
Next is Grant Hill, a producer of V FOR VENDETTA.
And of course, very pleased to bring you the co-creator and original artist David Lloyd.
Are we ready to go for questions?
Question 1: Hey, what's up Natalie. How are you doing? Ah, this is crazy - you're right there! I was wondering if you could give me a completely and utterly original moment.
Natalie Portman: [Natalie moves around in her seat, waves her arms, makes some noise, then laughs.] Well... a completely and utterly original moment. Maybe that was just weird! I don't know.
Question 2: Hello. My name's Brandon and I'm becoming a producer, working with New Line Cinema right now. Your name came up the other day when we were working on a movie. We were interested if you would ever play Audrey Hepburn, if asked.
Natalie Portman: Wow, thank you. I don't know. She's someone I so admire, I wouldn't ever think that I could ever step in her shoes.
Brandon: We had decided that you were probably the only person that could in Hollywood.
Natalie Portman: Thank you so much.
Brandon: Just curious if... you would think about it.
Natalie Portman: Thank you. That's an enormous compliment.
Compere: Any non casting-related questions?
Question 3: This is to the whole panel. I was wondering why Alan Moore didn't sign off for the film.
David Lloyd: Alan has his own view of things. I think that Alan would only be happy with a complete book to screen adaptation of V. My attitude is completely different. All I was concerned with, all I expected and desired, really, from the film, was a very good script, and it is a very good script. I'm happy with it, and that trailer looks fantastic, and as far as I'm concerned, it's good.
Question 3: Thank you.
Question 4: Hi, this is for Ms. Portman. I was wondering what character you liked playing the most out of Padmé, Sam from Garden State, Jane from Closer, or the V FOR VENDETTA character.
Natalie Portman: I don't know. It's hard to say that one was my favorite because I think that each one is the chance to do something new, and doing something new is the most exciting. I don't think I would ever want to go back and play each one - any of them - again, because it's like an experience in your life, and it's connected to something you're doing at that time. And for Star Wars, I got to play the character three different ages so it was a little bit different each time, and gave new chances, but I love them all. I've heard people refer to the characters they play as their children, and not being able to pick favorites, and that is sort of accurate.
Question 4: Thank you.
Natalie Portman: Thank you.
Question 5: My question is also for Ms. Portman. I was wondering that out of V FOR VENDETTA, Star Wars and Garden State, which cast did you have the best fun with?
Natalie Portman: Wow, everyone wants to pick favorites! I really have had an amazing experience. I mean, I know it sounds blandly political to say how much I've liked everyone that I've worked with, but I really had such a nice time. And on V, we had such an amazing group of people. James McTeigue, who directed it, and the Wachowski Brothers, who were second unit directors and writers and producers, are all incredible minds and spirits. And Hugo Weaving, who played V, is awesome. I know [audience and Natalie clapping] -- we all love him here. We're all fans of Hugo. And then, our production team, too.
Also, I encourage you all to [motions to the rest of the panel] ... they're a lot more interesting than I am, so they can give a lot more interesting answers about that stuff.
Question 5: Thank you.
Natalie Portman: Thank you.
Question 6: My question is also for Natalie. I just wanted to thank you for the beauty and elegance you show both on and off stage.
Natalie Portman: Thank you.
Question 6: I've lived with chronic pain my entire life. In reading you talking about Israel and Judaism -- when you have mentioned them in your articles -- got me curious about it, and so I began to investigate it and so I'm now going down a completely sort of new quasi-spiritual metaphysical path in my life and partially because of that. In fact, I kind of work with the biggest Jewish arts festival on the West Coast now.
Natalie Portman: Oh, thank you so much. Thank you for saying that. That's really nice, thank you.
Question 7: This question is also for Natalie. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about what you do to prepare for your roles, and what you do when you have conflicts between what you want a character to be and what the director thinks it should be.
Natalie Portman: That's interesting. Well... it depends on the role. For this role I read a lot and watched documentaries that I thought were related to it, and Antonia Fraser's book -- which the Wachowski Brothers recommended - Faith and Treason , about the gunpowder plot, that V FOR VENDETTA was based on, and also Macbeth , which was written right after the gunpowder plot in 1606, which was influenced a lot by it, and also Twelfth Night - there're quotes in the movie from those pieces. The Weather Underground documentary was really helpful to me in understanding how people sort of get into violent modes and justify violence for political purposes. Also, I read Menachem Begin's autobiography, because he was someone who was a prisoner and then went into what some people call terrorist activities. So all of that was really, really helpful. Sometimes I don't read at all because sometimes it's more emotional and less intellectual, but this I thought was really - because it's a character who's developing a political consciousness - I wanted to know what that was like.
And with directors, I try and work with directors, and I've been lucky enough to work with directors who I think are collaborative and also who I trust, so that if they have a different opinion than I do, I'm willing to try what they want, because I think they're good enough to make a good decision when they're cutting. I've been lucky enough to work with those kinds of people.
Question 7: Thank you.
Natalie Portman: Thank you.
Question 8: Hi... for Natalie again... my name is Alex. I'm an aspiring film critic from Dallas, Texas. You seem to go back and forth between independent and mainstream films: in the future do you see yourself leaning more towards the independent side, or are you going to go back and forth more?
Natalie Portman: I don't really think of movies that way. I like entertainment... like everyone, I think. Money has so little to do with the intention of the filmmakers, whether it's little money or big money, or establishment money, or some independently wealthy person financing it. It usually has little to do with the value of the project, I think.
Alex: OK, thank you.
Natalie Portman: Thank you.
Question 9: Hi, this one's for Natalie as well. You worked with George Lucas - a really big experience - but I'd like to know what it was like working on V FOR VENDETTA with the Wachowski Brothers. What was that experience like for you?
Natalie Portman: The Wachowskis are amazing, just really brilliant, focused, kind people and really down to earth, more than anyone I've worked with. Everyone I've worked with has been nice, but sometimes people get Hollywood, you know? And they're not, they're so like guys that you sit down with and just talk to and hang out with, but are also just incredibly unique minds and completely self-made and confident in their vision, and as the trailer says uncompromising in their vision. It was just an amazing thing to watch the way that they'll talk you through scenes. In the middle of the scene they'll be shouting stuff out, making loud noises, really - you know - banging and they'll role play. They'll do one shot, and just keep doing it over and over again in one take instead of cutting. It was really, really an amazing experience to watch them work, and to get to work with them, and to know them as people because they're fine human beings.
Question 9: Thank you.
Natalie Portman: Thank you.
Question 10: [V For Vendetta] is such a great piece of material, how did you become acquainted with it, and why did you want to make a movie out of it?
Joel Silver: I don't know. Is Alan's name on the movie, though? I don't even know. I mean, he did write the material and he created the material. I read it in '88, when I also read Watchmen for the first time, and I was able to acquire both those at the same time in '88. I was able to acquire Watchmen and V, and over the years, Watchmen changed hands, but I was able to hold onto V, and when the Wachowski Brothers said they really wanted to do it, then we really kind of amped it up again and had it made. I mean, I think Alan is a genius. I think he's incredibly... kind of a visionary, gifted, genius guy, and you know, anything he touches - I also am involved in Swamp Thing , which he's been involved in too - so I keep finding my way back to him. But, you know, he's been very clear with us that he doesn't really want to have anything to do with what, you know, we're doing on these movies, but he does create them, and they're out there in the world, and thankfully, you know, David Lloyd is here, and he was very supportive of what we were doing. I'm just happy that I was able to put this together with an incredible cast - with Natalie, with the boys - and to really, you know, make what I think is a really effective and inspired motion picture.
Heidi: Thank you.
Question 11: Hi, this question is for Ms. Portman. Do you have a preference between being in a comic book based movie, or sci-fi something as big as Star Wars, as compared to Léon/The Professional that grew such a huge fan base? Do you have a preference of which you prefer to do - being in a genre film or something that is more cult following?
Natalie Portman: Like I said before, I really like doing different things all the time, I think that keeps it most interesting. Something that definitely is different - working from a graphic novel - is you do have images and words and source material that are incredibly rich to draw from, and to be inspired by, and to have illustrations of how someone's moving and facially expressive, and all of that can be an inspiration. It also can be daunting, too because you want to be as strong as the illustrations, which is difficult when it's this level of art. Yeah, it's different, but I don't necessarily have a preference. I'm very political today!
Question 11: Thank you.
Natalie Portman: I wish I was more opinionated.
Question 12: Hi, this is for Natalie Portman... hi there.
Natalie Portman: Hey.
Question 12: How has your liberal arts education at Harvard University influenced you as an actress?
Natalie Portman: [laughs] Um... my liberal arts education... it's made me really good at not offending anyone, right? [laughs] Being really PC about all my answers in interviews to 6,000 people. I think the most important thing for me, was getting an amazing group of friends who were really interesting individuals and doing completely different things so that I feel like I have an idea of what people are like outside of the bubble we live in, which is really helpful for work, because first of all, I always feel that I have a place to go with people I love and am fascinated by, and who keep me learning for the rest of my life. And also that they add to me and I can ask them questions about things, and ask them their opinions on things, and they tell me the truth, and they tell me when I'm being annoying or... you know, they're not kissing up to me. So I'd say my friends from school probably are the most important thing that I've taken away from the whole experience.
Question 12: Thank you.
Question 13: Hi.
Natalie Portman: Hi.
Question 13: I have a question for the producers, and also for David Lloyd - but you can answer, too. [laughs]
Natalie Portman: [laughing] That's cool.
Question 13: In the post 9/11 sort of climate, where Britain and America seem to be getting closer and closer to the world of this movie, what made you decide to make it now, and how do you think it's going be received?
Joel Silver: I think it's a really great time for this movie. I mean, it's a controversial film, and we're in a controversial time. There're some really bold and impressive ideas in the original story, which was written in the late 80s, and it's the perfect place for us to show the film now. What happened is that when the boys finished the Matrix movies, they were kind of burnt out, but they had written a script for me for this before they made the Matrix movies. They said that they were very happy with working with James McTeigue, who had been our first assistant director on the Matrix films, and they wanted James to have a shot to direct a picture. They said, "We were thinking about going back, rewriting V -- we'll produce it with you," which I was happy to have them do, "And we'd like James to direct it." And they said, "We think the time is right for it." So that's why we're doing it, and I think it's going to impress a lot of people and make a lot of people think, which I think is important for movies like this today.
Question 14: This is for Natalie Portman: how does it feel to shave your head?
Natalie Portman: Well... it wasn't really as traumatic as I'd expected. I think I learned through it that I'm not that connected to my hair, which is an irrelevant, uninteresting conclusion to come to, but I came to it nonetheless! It was nice, you know. I think it wasn't emotional for me, but it's different to see how people react to you differently, or maybe it's just what I'm projecting onto people, that they're reacting differently to me or... I have no idea. I feel for the first time - being a really small, child-sized girl - I've always felt non-threatening, and for the first time I feel a little tougher, which is nice.
Question 14: All right.
Natalie Portman: Would you ever do it?
Question 14: Of course.
Natalie Portman: Yeah? [laughing]
Question 15: Hello, Doug Marshall with the Independent Film Channel. I have a question for Ms. Portman and Mr. Silver, but maybe the rest of the panel can speak to it, too. Why was it important to come to Comic-Con with your film this year?
Natalie Portman: Well, I'm really excited. This is my first time here, and it's exciting to be in a room full of people so passionate about comics and graphic novels, especially when our source material for this film is so special and provocative on so many levels. I've never read many comic books or graphic novels in my life, and having read V it inspired me to want to read more of these, because it has such a mix of art and politics and humor that I don't think other mediums aspire to. It's amazing to be with people who appreciate this wealth of stimuli from these graphic novels. Obviously we're all fans of the book to have made this film, and we are trying to be as faithful to our material as possible because we love the source material - all of us - and it's nice to share it with these people [motions to audience] and show for the first time in the world the trailer to the people who love it most.
Doug: Mr. Silver, do you want to add to that?
Joel Silver: It's great to sit here - it's awe-inspiring - to sit and see 6,000 people who are friends... that's what I feel like. I feel like it's a group of people who care about these kind of movies and what we're doing. It's exciting to show something that we're proud of to a group that I think will respond to it, and to see all you here, and all you sitting there, is a great thing. It seems to have gotten bigger and bigger and more important and, you know, it's like a forum for us to really connect with the audience, and it's something I love doing.
Doug: Thanks, guys.
Question 16: David Lloyd, as a creator of the original story, and the rest of you making it, what are your feelings about the London bombing, and also present-day London with video cameras all over the place... which is kind of how the story of V FOR VENDETTA was.
David Lloyd: Yeah, that's very interesting about the CCTV cameras, because when we did that in the '80s, there weren't that many around. I mean, society has actually become a lot more like the one that we actually painted. The question about London and terrorism, and what's happened there -- I think it's important that we try and understand terrorists. I think there should be lots of movies made about terrorists, and politics generally, and one of the reasons I'm so happy about this film is that it does have a very strong and uncompromising political message, and there aren't many films made like that now. So, in terms of what's happening in London over the last week, I think it's going to be healthy to try and understand what leads a person to terrorism. There's that old cliché, isn't there - one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter - and if we try and understand that, then maybe we might be able to solve the problems that cause terrorism more easily.
Question 17: Hi my name is AJ, this question is to the gorgeous Ms. Portman. How do you think you have grown as an actress?
Natalie Portman: I think I started as a kid actress I was 11 years old when I started The Professional . When you're a kid you're sort of just obedient, you know, doing what someone tells you to do. As an actor a lot of times you are serving a director's vision, but at the same time now I think I do a lot more on my own, not relying on a director necessarily to get me to an emotional place, and preparing myself at home before and reading on my own and coming up with ideas and suggesting things and disagreeing sometimes, and talking about stuff a lot more as opposed to just sort of just being guided I suppose.
Question 18: Being a role model to so many young teens, and with all the drastic changes that these young people go through as far as changing their bodies physically through plastic surgery, what is your opinion or advice to young teens who choose plastic surgery over natural beauty?
Natalie Portman: I don't think I've ever been asked that before. Thank you for the question. I appreciate people looking up to - I should say all of us as actors, because it's not me particularly, most people look to actors as role models. I don't ever want to criticize anyone's choices because, I mean, I'm not in anyone else's body. I can imagine being that uncomfortable with yourself, and if it makes you happier or whatever... but I think the main thing is that if especially women focused half the time they spent on focusing on their looks on developing their internal lives, their minds, their souls, we'd have a much better world. I think it's been a hindrance to development of so many people to focus on this. I mean, I help to promote that, so I don't want to say I'm not part of that, you know, we're all subject to it, so even if we want to fight it we're all still influenced by the same things. When I'm sad in my life the best thing I ever do is do something for someone else, which is the most selfish thing in the world. If I had advice, that would be it. Thank you.
Compere: Thank you very much guys, thanks for the questions. And thank you to our panel; we really appreciate you being up here supporting Natalie.