Darren Aronofsky‘s intense ballet thriller Black Swan held its New York premiere last night, and we scored a spot on the red carpet. Our first impressions? Unsurprisingly, Natalie Portman is out of control radiant, Winona Ryder looked impossibly cool in a suit and Darren’s mustache is so much less creepy in person! Like, he wouldn’t even need to lure you into his white van because you’d get in willingly.
We knew that Natalie trained notoriously hard for the ballerina role, working five to eight hours a day for a year — but she’s apparently been in hardcore ballet mode for much, much longer. She told us: “Darren first started talking to me about the film ten years ago, so I kept trying to take dance classes in between in case he got financing at some point. And it took ten years. I had to start [training] really seriously the year before filming.”
When we spoke with Mary Helen Bowers, the super tall and thin dancer who trained Natalie for over a year, we wanted to know if there were health precautions the two women took to make sure Natalie didn’t enter a body weight danger zone. “Not really.” she explained. “The focus was just to make sure she was strong and prove that she was healthy. And to get her to the point where she didn’t have to worry about her technique and could just focus on her performance.”
We asked big-eyed beauty Ksenia Solo, who plays a rival dancer in the flick if, after all that training, she thinks she’s be able to live the lifestyle of a ballet dancer full time. Ksenia’s answer? “No! I have so much respect for them but I don’t know how they do it.”
And what’s it like to work with auteur Darren Aronofsky and his stache? We asked Vincent Cassel if Darren had any special tricks of the trade to pull out those intense performances. “He’s demanding but he’s very open-minded, so he asks you to participate on every level from the wardrobe to the set design. I literally chose my own furniture.”
Barbara Hershey added: “Darren’s brilliant and wonderful. He puts you through it the way you want to be put through it. He uses you up as an actor and it’s wonderful to be part of his tapestry.”