Natalie Portman’s ‘SNL’ Rap Was ‘Mindbogglingly, Graphically Filthy’

‘All the kids looking up to me can (bleep) by (bleep)’
Natalie Portman’s ‘SNL’ Rap Was ‘Mindbogglingly, Graphically Filthy’

SNL hosts who want to take a walk on the wild side? Not always a great idea, explained Seth Meyers on this week’s Lonely Island podcast. “A lot of times actors come in and want to show the other thing they do,” he said, “and it turns out the reason we haven’t seen it yet is it’s bad and no one likes it.” 

So when Natalie Portman showed up in 2006 wanting to do her own “Lazy Sunday,” it raised some eyebrows. Was it a disaster waiting to happen? 

“We were very nervous when she was like, ‘I wanna rap,’” confessed Jorma Taccone. “We were like, ‘Oh God.’”

Portman showed up in Lonely Island’s shared office proclaiming to like “rap shit.” Fine, liking it is one thing. But then “she just started doing a Lil’ Kim verse,” said Andy Samberg. “It was very good and very convincing…”

“And it was a very filthy, if you recall,” interjected Akiva Schaffer. 

The Lonely Island guys loved the idea that no one would see this coming. The sketch would become a viral hit (for a couple of days until Neanderthal NBC had it pulled from YouTube), but Meyers highlighted one important element about the finished product. “I remembered a lot of things,” he said, but “I definitely forgot exactly how filthy it is. Mindbogglingly, graphically filthy.”

“Had to be,” replied Samberg. “That was the whole joke. That was the whole angle.” 

Oh, you want all the swears? Here you go:

“Her Lil’ Kim lyrics that she spit were filthy,” said Taccone, “and we were like, ‘Oh yeah, you gotta go way harder than that.” Again, that was the joke, said Schaffer — Portman was a Star Wars princess and a Harvard graduate. Everyone thought she was perfect. “Got to ruin that somehow,” explained Taccone. Samberg credited Schaffer for the filthiest lyrics, courtesy of a particularly hot writing session where the nasty just poured out of him. 

Of course, uncensored lyrics like All the kids looking up to me can suck my dick / It's Portman, motherfucker, drink till I'm sick weren’t going to get by the NBC censors. Normally, like in Lonely Island’s “Dick in a Box,” an audible bleep sufficed to cover up the naughty words. But because Natalie’s Rap was so extreme, they added a graphic bar over her mouth so sensitive lip-readers wouldn’t be shocked out of their living room chairs. 

It didn’t blunt the impact, however. “We would realize often with our censored versions of songs that actually, bleeps were sometimes the best,” said Taccone, “because they are the most jarring, implying real horrible cursing.”

The Lonely Island guys cop to borrowing from a lot of early hip-hop artists to create Natalie’s Rap, including Eazy-E and Sir Mix-A-Lot. The result was such a banger that it was randomly included on a special edition DVD of Portman’s V for Vendetta, even though it had nothing to do with the film. 

One unfortunate aftershock from Natalie’s Rap? It “sired a lot of children,” Meyers admitted, meaning rhythm-impaired actors became convinced that they should try their hands at rap. So when celebrities from Joaquin Phoenix to Snooki shoot their shot, do we have Lonely Island to blame? 

Maybe, maybe not. But Samberg did suggest that “celebs who didn’t enjoy the works of Lil’ Kim to the extent that Natalie did” stay far away from the microphone.


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