Did Natalie Portman really perform a majority of the dances in Black Swan? Her body double says no while Darren Aronofsky strongly defends the actress!
Sarah Lane, Natalie Portman’s ballet double in Black Swan, is stirring up controversy by telling Entertainment Weekly she did 95% “of the full body shots” in the film. Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight, Natalie’s fiancé, and director Darren Aronofsky are shooting down her claims and saying Natalie was used for most of the movie. But I have a solution: release the behind-the-scenes footage!
A joint statement released by Fox Searchlight and the filmmakers states, “We were fortunate to have Sarah there to cover the more complicated dance sequences and we have nothing but praise for the hard work she did. However, Natalie herself did most of the dancing featured in the final film.”
But Sarah, who spoke out to the media in response to Black Swan choreographer (and Natalie’s fiancé) Benjamin Millipied saying “85% of that movie is Natalie”, tells a different story. “They wanted to create this idea in people’s minds that Natalie was some kind of prodigy […] to make herself a ballerina in a year and a half for the movie, basically because of the Oscar. It is demeaning to the profession […] I’ve been doing this for 22 years […]Can you become a concert pianist in a year and a half, even if you’re a movie star?”
So who is telling the truth? If Natalie didn’t perform most of the dances, that tarnishes her Oscar win since many votes were based on how amazing Natalie did not only in acting in the film, but in how successfully she turned into a ballerina. But why would Sarah Lane lie? She has way more to lose! Natalie Portman has the Oscar, and will be involved in many more films in her future but Sarah is risking being black-listed in Hollywood as a whistle blower (she says she was asked not to speak about her involvement in the film).
Darren Aronofsky added his explanation as well: “Here is the reality. I had my editor count shots. There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math that’s 80% Natalie Portman. […] And to be clear Natalie did dance on pointe in pointe shoes. If you look at the final shot of the opening prologue, which lasts 85 seconds, and was danced completely by Natalie, she exits the scene on pointe. That is completely her without any digital magic. I am responding to this to put this to rest and to defend my actor. Natalie sweated long and hard to deliver a great physical and emotional performance. And I don’t want anyone to think that’s not her they are watching. It is.”
So what is the best way to prove either way what people did or didn’t do? Show us the behind-the-scenes footage! In an age of DVD extras and constant interest in knowing how a movie is made, everything is usually filmed. There is no way that rehearsal footage and practice wasn’t filmed. So whether the filmmakers have to put the footage on the DVD, on YouTube or even on an evening news program, its time to release the truth. It’s really as simple as that.
Natalie has already admitted to EW that she used a body double for key sequences, “I do have a double for the complicated turning stuff, It was not anything I ever could have done in a year, nothing I could’ve caught up with. But I think it was just better for all of us if I did as much as possible.”
So HollywoodLifers, the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding just happens to be filmed. So show us the goods and don’t let the controversy take over what really is a wonderful film.