Since "Black Swan" hit theaters in December, the film required a certain suspension of disbelief as to whether leading lady Natalie Portman was actually performing the pirouettes, bourrées and pliés the scenes in the movie required of her. But the question about how much she actually danced has refused to go away, and it culminated on March 25.
Portman's ballet body double, Sarah Lane, told Entertainment Weekly that only 5 percent of the full-body shots of Natalie's character dancing were actually performed by Portman. It was a response to Portman's fiancé Benjamin Millepied, a dancer himself, telling the Los Angeles Times that "85 percent of that movie is Natalie," which Lane said was grossly exaggerated and thus "demeaning to the profession and not just to me."
But now the one man who truly knows just how much of the film actually was Portman has come forward. Entertainment Weekly received a statement from "Black Swan" director Darren Aronofsky in which he clarified once and for all that the majority of the ballet performed in the flick is, in fact, danced by Portman.
"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 percent Natalie Portman," he said.
Portman's costar, Mila Kunis, also came forward and defended the Oscar-winning actress on Monday to Entertainment Weekly.
"Natalie danced her ass off," Kunis said. "She'll tell you [that], no, she was not on pointe when she did a fouetté [turn]. No one's going to deny that. But she did do every ounce of every one of her dances. [Lane] wasn't used for everything. It was more like a safety net. If Nat wasn't able to do something, you'd have a safety net. The same thing that I had — I had a double as a safety net. We all did. No one ever denied it."
Aronofsky went on to explain that, when looking at the duration of each dance sequence and not just at the number of shots, Portman actually performed about 90 percent of the dance in the movie. He said that there were two complicated longer dance sequences where he and the production crew used Lane's performance and then replaced her face with Portman's, but that he wanted to defend just how much effort his leading lady did put into her role.
"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," Aronofsky said. "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."
When Portman spoke to MTV News in November about her training for the movie, she admitted that it was "really extreme."
"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 said.
Check out everything we've got on "Black Swan."
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