Aronofsky, Kunis defend Portman in Black Swan controversy

In the latest of the battle of the ballerinas – or rather the case of obscure ballerina versus Natalie PortmanBlack Swan director Darren Aronofsky and Natalie’s co-star Mila Kunis have spoken out, defending the Oscar winning star.

Aronofsky released his statement through studio Fox Searchlight after Portman’s dance double, Sarah Lane, came forward last week claiming Portman only danced 5% of the full body shots in the acclaimed film.

The full statement from Aronofsky (courtesy of EW) reads:

“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.”

Mila Kunis was far more concise when speaking to EW:

“Natalie danced her a– off.”

According to Entertainment Weekly, ballerina Sarah Lane decided to speak out after Portman’s fiancé and Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied claimed Portman danced 85 per cent of the film. Lane also reported being told to keep silent during awards season about her role as Portman’s dance double.

What at first seemed to start as a case of sour grapes has just been squashed (yes we went there) by director Aronofsky’s statement, which clearly defends his star actress. While Portman’s performance in Black Swan was strong, it was her intense training schedule and dancing which ultimately grabbed the attention and admiration of critics and audiences alike. To question this after the release of the film throws doubt on previous opinions, yet with no one standing by Lane’s side we can only believe that Portman really did dance the majority of her scenes.

Discuss: Does knowing the amount of ballet actually danced by Portman in Black Swan change your opinion of her performance?

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