Last week a minor controversy rose up around Black Swan, when Natalie Portman‘s body double Sarah Lane claimed that Fox Searchlight had prohibited her from doing interviews before the Oscars so that voters would believe that Portman had done the majority of her dancing in the film. Portman’s fiance/baby-daddy Benjamin Millepied responded to the original article, claiming that the Academy Award winner had done “85%” of her dancing. Now, director Darren Aronofsky has issued a statement defending his star and himself.
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. 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.
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 he’s addressed percentage of the total dancing and duration, but what about specific sequences? As we reported last week, a video detailing the movie’s special effects clearly shows Lane dancing the part where Nina gives herself over to the Black Swan role. Does it diminish the emotional impact if it’s not Portman in that moment? It wouldn’t be the case with an action star and their stunt double; again, what sours this situation is the secrecy that went on to create the illusion that Portman had done everything.