After taking a hiatus from the spotlight following the birth of her son last June, Natalie Portman recently signed on to partner with watch company Richard Mille. As part of the arrangement, Portman will help Mille design a limited-edition watch, with proceeds benefitting Free the Children, an international charity that promotes children's education. TIME spoke to the Oscar-winning actress about her latest venture.
What drew you to this partnership with Richard Mille?
I've learned so much about the watch-making process, which is about such extreme technique and mastery. It's a handmade, old-world craft, almost like making a piano. It was an incredible opportunity to get a look into this world, and they've been really committed to helping pursue this charitable endeavor with Free the Children, so that commitment was really meaningful to me, too.
You're helping to design a watch. Do you have a lot of experience with design?
Laughs. I do not, but luckily Richard does. He'll handle the technical aspects, and I'll probably be like, "Make this thinner. Do it this shape." I'm sure I'll have very basic things to add.
You're very good friends with Kate and Laura Mulleavy of the fashion label Rodarte. Has a relationship with designers like them helped inspire your thinking?
I see how curious and engaged with the world they are, from science to nature to art to music. They really take inspirations from the most unexpected places. I think having friends like that around you makes you more open to seeing things in a different way.
So much has been said about Rodarte's exquisite costumes for Black Swan. How did it feel to actually wear them?
They were really incredible, really specific. There was an incredible amount of craftsmanship that went into these costumes. As soon as you put them on, you felt like a different character. They even managed to make them vegan for me.
And what's next for you film-wise?
I start work this summer on one of two films by Terrence Malick, which is very exciting. Then I'll be doing Thor 2 after that, and then working with Richard Mille and Dior as well.