The night before her new film May December premieres at the Cannes Film Festival, Natalie Portman had another role to fill, as Godmother of the 2023 Trophee Chopard at an elegant beachside dinner on Friday night.
At the annual event, the Godmother bestows the Trophee onto two rising star actors, with this year’s honor going to I Wanna Dance With Somebody actor Naomi Ackie and Good Luck to You, Leo Grande star Daryl McCormack.
The rest of the room is filled with stars, filmmakers and other notable festival attendees. Much of the festival jury — including president Ruben Östlund, Paul Dano and Brie Larson — took a break from their duties to enjoy the delicately prepared dining experience prepared by two Michelin starred chef Bruno Oger. Other notable names in the room included Storm Reid, Rossy de Palma, Tang Wei, Academy president Janet Yang, and Un Certain Regard jury president John C. Reilly.
When it was time for Portman to take the stage, she poured out the praise for the honorees, having just walked the red carpet with them both ahead of the premiere of The Zone of Interest earlier that night. “Naomi Ackie’s star burns bright and fierce,” she said. “Miss Ackie’s presence is undeniable.” As for McCormack, she said “his nuanced performances are transcendent.”
Both actors took the stage to accept their award, an honor that was created to put a spotlight on rising talent in an effort to bring more opportunities their way. Past honorees have included Marion Cotillard, Gael García Bernal, Diane Kruger, Shailene Woodley, and Anya Taylor-Joy.
Ackie, whose other work includes Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and TV series Master of None, stated that it made her emotional to watch a video montage of her work ahead of taking the stage. “When you’re in the moment of the thing it doesn’t feel that big, but then I realize I’ve spent 20 years doing this job,” she said. “I’m very very grateful. And that’s a beautiful feeling to have.”
McCormack had a breakout role opposite Emma Thompson in Leo Grande and also recently appeared on the TV series Bad Sisters. The Irish actor was a bit speechless when he took the stage, especially when looking out onto the crowd of artists. “I don’t really know what to say other than I used to be brought to the cinema with my mom when I was growing up, and cinema has become a part of my passion and has become my life,” he said. “So to be here, in this room with all of you, the little eight year old boy just wouldn’t believe it.”