Darren Aronofsky defends Natalie Portman's dancing in 'Black Swan,' despite what Sarah Lane says
There's been a lot of dancing around the recent controversy that Natalie Portman didn't do most of her own ballet routines for her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan, but now the director is weighing in after Portman's double said the actress did only five percent of her own shots. But let's begin at the beginning.
In a March 23 L.A. Times article, Portman's fiance and Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied said that while Nat did have a dance double in the form of American Ballet Theatre dancer Sarah Lane, "85 percent of that movie is Natalie." Lane disagreed, telling Entertainment Weekly on Friday that she was the real star of the stage, and wasn't credited enough for her six weeks of work.
"The shots that are just her face with arms, those shots are definitely Natalie," Lane said. "But that doesn’t show the actual dancing." Furthermore, Lane claimed she was told to keep the extent of her contribution mum.
"They wanted to create this idea in people's minds that Natalie was some kind of prodigy or so gifted in dance and really worked so hard to make herself a ballerina in a year and a half for the movie, basically because of the Oscar," Lane said. "It is demeaning to the profession and not just to me. 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?"
Well, director Darren Aronofsky shot back with a statement to EW recounting just how much of the movie was Portman, and why Lane was credited only as "Hand Model," "Stunt Double" and "Lady in the Lane" for a walk-on role.
"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," Aronofsky said in the statement. "What about duration? The shots that feature the double are wide shots and rarely play for longer than one second. There are two complicated longer dance sequences that we used face replacement. Even so, if we were judging by time over 90% would be Natalie Portman."
He further points out that despite what Lane charges -- that Portman "doesn’t look like a professional ballet dancer at all and she can't dance in pointe shoes. And she can't move her body; she's very stiff" -- Natalie was on pointe in her pointe shoes at the end of the opening sequence and danced the entire 85-second routine herself.
"I am responding to this to put this to rest and to defend my actor," Aronofsky concluded. "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, who telling the truth here? The angry ballet dancer who probably was far removed from the editing process, or the director defending his Oscar-winning lead? Watch the short video above for an example and see if you can spot any digital face-swapping. That's the kind of development that could drive you crazy, that's for sure.