Grazia Daily has been a huge fan of Natalie Portman for yonks now – from Garden State to Closer, even as the only convincing human in the Star Wars prequels! So despite being completely in awe of her talents, we were not the least bit surprised by her ah-may-zing Oscar winning performance in Black Swan.
Natalie trained with a ballet teacher for about a year pre-filming, toning her body and perfecting her technique and also spent two months prior to shooting training with the film's choreographer Benjamin Millepied (now her fiancé and baby daddy!). With her near-skeletal frame evident throughout the movie, there’s no doubt that Natalie threw herself wholeheartedly into the role, giving her performance genuine authenticity.
So, of course, there was always going to be the inevitable speculation as to how much of the complicated choreography was in fact performed by Portman. Afterall, professional ballerinas train for several years just to join a company let alone perform as a lead soloist. But one dancer who’s more put out than most is that of Sarah Lane, Natalie’s dancing double.
Sarah recently told Entertainment Weekly that the viewing public had been misled as to just how much of the fancy footwork was performed by Natalie. 'On the full body shots, I would say 5 percent are Natalie,' Lane said. 'I mean, from a professional dancer's standpoint, she doesn't look like a professional ballet dancer at all and she can't dance in pointe shoes. And she can't move her body, she's very stiff.' Ouch. With the many accolades and awards that Natalie has received for the role, it's unsurprising Sarah feels snubbed, particularly when she was only credited as ‘Hand Model’, ‘Stunt Double’ and ‘Lady in the Lane’ in the credits...
Her comments were most likely sparked in response to Millepied’s interview with the Los Angeles Times, in which he said, 'There are articles now talking about her dance double that are making it sound like (Lane) did a lot of the work but really, she just did the footwork, and the fouettes, and one diagonal in the studio. Honestly, 85 percent of that movie was Natalie.'
The film's producers were quick to defend Portman, and Fox Searchlight released a statement saying, '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 reads. "However, Natalie herself did most of the dancing featured in the final film.'
We’re all for credit where credit's due but it seems to us that Lane has a slight case of sour grapes. Although it may seem unfair to some, it’s unrealistic for a double of any kind to receive the same adulation as the lead actor or actress (can anyone name Arnie’s double in the Terminator movies?! Exactly) – the success of a movie in part is due to the casting of well-known and well loved performers.
Whether she danced 5 or 85 percent of the film, we still think Portman did a fantastic and convincing turn as a troubled ballerina and we can’t wait to watch it all over again when Black Swan is released on DVD on 16 May. But tell us, what do you think?
- Jo Oliver