“It was really extreme,” Natalie Portman told MTV News in November. “And I definitely felt both physical and mental aftershocks from the experience, because it was the first thing I’ve ever done that was this physically demanding on top of an emotionally demanding part.”
She was speaking about the 10 months she spent training to play a ballerina in “Black Swan,” a role that would earn her a Best Actress Oscar in February. Now that awards season is over, however, a controversy has erupted over how much of the dancing in “Black Swan” was executed by Portman and how much was the work of her professional ballet-dancing body doubles.
Sarah Lane, a 27-year-old soloist at the American Ballet Theatre who stood in for Portman in the film, told Entertainment Weekly that she has been the victim of a “cover-up” meant to tout Portman’s work at the expense of her own.
“Of the full body shots, I would say 5 percent are Natalie. All the other shots are me,” she said. “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. It is demeaning to the profession and not just to me. I’ve been doing this for 22 years.”
Following Lane’s comments, Fox Searchlight released a statement that was both supportive of the dancer but emphasized the amount of Portman’s own ballet that made it into the movie. “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,” the statement read. “However, Natalie herself did most of the dancing featured in the final film.”
The debate caught fire last week after Benjamin Millepied, Portman’s fiancé and “Black Swan” choreographer, told the Los Angeles Times, “There are articles now talking about her dance double [Lane] that are making it sound like [Lane] did a lot of the work, but really, she just did the footwork, and the fouettés, and one diagonal [phrase] in the studio. Honestly, 85 percent of that movie is Natalie.”
MTV News asked Portman’s reps for comment but had not heard back as of press time.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Black Swan.”
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