Portman stars in the upcoming space drama Lucy in the Sky, written and directed by Fargo and Legion showrunner Noah Hawley. The film, based on the true story of former astronaut Lucy Nowak, debuted earlier this month at the Toronto Film Festival. Critics had some thoughts — namely, regarding Portman’s, uh, wardrobe choices.
“The original story was that this woman drove across the country to kind of confront — or kidnap, depending on the version...her boyfriend and his new girlfriend, and she wore a diaper so that she didn’t have to stop on the way,” Portman explained on The Ellen Show.
“We didn’t do that in the movie, and everyone’s like, ‘Where’s the diaper?’" she said. “Everyone’s really upset to not see me in a diaper. I don’t know what’s that about.”
Let’s back up real quick. In Lucy in the Sky, Portman plays astronaut Lucy Cola. The character is based on Nowak, a former robotics specialist who traveled into space in 2006 to work on the International Space Station. Loosely mirroring Nowak’s own affair with William Oefelein, Cola becomes involved with fellow astronaut Mark Goodwin (Jon Hamm), but her life is further upended after Goodwin starts up a relationship with another woman.
Here’s the real-life version of what happened next. After her relationship with Oefelein ended, Nowak drove from Houston to Orlando to confront Oefelein’s new girlfriend, U.S. Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman. Nowak brought several potentially lethal weapons with her, including pepper spray, a BB gun, and an eight-inch knife, according to The New York Times. She was also prepared for other challenges: Nowak reportedly wore a diaper, as Portman said, presumably so as to not be slowed down by bathroom breaks. Nowak was later arrested and charged with attempted kidnapping and murder.
Portman’s depiction of Nowak as Cola apparently stays true to the kidnapping plot, sans diaper — and while that has caused widespread (if mostly tongue-in-cheek) uproar among avid moviegoers, it was apparently a deliberate move. She told The Los Angeles Times that the decision to omit the diaper was a way of distancing the film from unfairly indicting the real-life Nowak.
“Oh, the diaper sadness,” Portman said, also adding that she heard everyone loud and clear: “I guess I still have a diaper movie in my future to fulfill everyone’s expectations.”
Lucy in the Sky hits theaters October 4.