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Natalie Portman's body double: accusations, accounting and Aronofsky

natalie portman's body double said she did most of the dancing, not Natalie. Natalie Portman can't catch a break -- or, to hear her body double Sarah Lane tell it, caught a lot of them during the filming of "Black Swan."

Over the weekend, Lane dished to about anyone who would listen that the Oscar-winning Portman didn't do nearly as much hoofing as we've been told -- specifically that about 5% of the footwork we see on screen is the real Natalie.

It all started last week when our sister blog Culture Monster published an interview with Portman's fiancé, Benjamin Millepied, who addressed a few rumblings that Portman didn't do the majority of the dancing in the thriller.

"[Reports are] making it sound like [Lane] did a lot of the work, but really, she just did the footwork, and the fouettés, and one diagonal [phrase] in the studio. Honestly, 85% of that movie is Natalie," said Millepied. 

Millepied, apparently, cut into the wrong Lane.

"I should specify the actual percentage of dancing that Natalie did,” Lane told the Wall Street Journal in an email. “They are saying that it was 85-90% of the dancing but I can tell you honestly that it was about 5% of the on-screen dancing.”

Portman's director Darren Aronofsky remained silent in the wings but on Monday revealed that he requested the film's editor to physically count the number of scenes from the final prodcut that featured Natalie dancing on her own.

"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," he said in a statement. "... 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.”

Talk about ruffled feathers.


Natalie Portman: 'Black Swan' almost killed me

Choreographer Benjamin Millepied on life after 'Black Swan

Benjamin Millepied: Who is Natalie Portman's future husband?

-- Matt Donnelly

Phot: Natalie Portman as embattled ballerina Nina in "Black Swan." Credit: Fox Searchlight  

Comments () | Archives (15)

Good idea to have a body double.

So first it was 5% of dance scenes were the substitute dancer, now they admit it's 20%.

They still lied and cut the % to a fourth of what it was.

Why was the lie necessary in the first place?

$$$$$$ That's why.


I think readers are getting confused between what Sarah Lane considers "on Screen Dancing" and what the director considers just "dancing". Sarah is saying that of all the foot/feet shots and full body shots (what she considers to be REAL dancing), the majority of that is HER. WHICH IS TRUE! The director is saying of all the dance-ish scenes (Natalie waving her arms around in port de bras etc without showing her lower body) those are ALL Natalie. WHICH IS ALSO TRUE! (I'm not counting scenes where Natalie is just standing around in dance attire -- THAT'S NOT DANCING!)

The director is ALSO right that the majority of the total "Dance" scenes are Natalie, because they are mostly upper body shots not showing the feet. Any real dancer knows that's not REAL dancing and Sarah is just trying to make that point.

Sarah is not in the wrong when she says 90% of the shots showing feet or Full body are HER!

I think articles are confusing what is REAL dancing (full body dancing) and what is dance-ish (upper body moving the hands around like most kids do). Dancing is a FULL-BODY art form. It was altered by the director to look good on film and he did a good job with it but.. that doesn't change the nature of WHAT IS REAL DANCE.

When I say dance I really mean to say BALLET.

Isn't time to honor Best Stunt Performance at the Oscars?

Why is there so much discrepancy here?? The director and Sarah Lane are BOTH right. There really shouldn't be so much DRAMA.

Natalie danced 111 of 139 scenes, and Sarah 28. Of the 111 scenes that natalie danced they were mostly head or upper body shots. Sarah's beautiful dancing in the other 28 scenes were most of the footwork and full body shots. When Sarah says "on Screen Dacncing" she means footwork and full body shots, cause that is what BALLET is!

So yes, SARAH did dance 90% percent of the footwork and full body shots, and natalie danced 85% of the TOTAL movie!!

I don't understand why there is so much argument over the issue. Give Sarah her CREDIT and let the rest be. Once again the directors statements are DISCREDITING Sarah's role.

Oh goodness. The director, choreographer, and bigwigs are all using semantics in this argument.

I think that yes, Sarah wants the credit that is due to her, but she is highlighting a BIGGER issue here. The issue that Studio execs forbade her to discuss her involvement. To minimize her involvement. To basically lie about the extent of Natalie's engagement in the dance portion of the film. To mislead the public. I think this is what is troubling her, and is what compelled her to speak on this topic. Unfortunately, this disturbing bit of infomation is getting lost in the discussion.

Aronofsky also claims that Natalie went en pointe part of the movie. I find that hard to believe in a year she could go an pointe. He also was quoted saying that through all her hard training, in a year she become prima ballerina.
Throwing phrases like that around, making this fantasy that Natalie really did in actuality become the best of the best in the ballet world and cutting parts of the special effects reel out, that everyone's already seen to hide Lane...and people wonder why Lane is upset.

What this article highlights is the extent to which these big directors lie to convince the public that their star is capable of doing anything. If they had been honest, Natalie Portman would not have received the same Oscar buzz and let's face it, no one else even had a chance to win the Oscar (even though I thought there were better choices for the award). Personally, I would have liked an acting double for Natalie Portman. Aronofsky and Millepied should be ashamed for being so ungracious to this dancing double whose 20 years of expertise they used and then lied about when it suited them. Natalie should be ashamed of not thanking her double in her Oscar speech, or ever for that matter. Typical Hollywood elitist behavior.

Wouldn't it be more graceful to honor her beautiful contribution to this movie rather than try to diminish it?

Aronofsky needs to adjust his statement. He says of 139 shots, 111 were Natalie; 28 Sarah.
What about second dance double Kimberly Prosa? According to that math Kimberley did 0 shots. That would contradict this statement from Kimberly Prosa:
Says Prosa: “Natalie took class, she studied for several months, from the waist up is her. Sarah Lane a soloist at ABT, did the heavy tricks, she did the fouéttes, but they only had her for a limited time, a couple of weeks, so I did the rest of whatever dance shots they needed.”

Why can’t they just give the dancer credit and recognition? It isn’t like she’s going to get paid Natalie’s millions or get an Oscar! She just wants some respect and recognition for pete’s sake!!!!

Wow, that Sarah Lane girl is burning some SERIOUS bridges here. She may have a point about not getting enough credit, but what does she really expect to happen here? It's not like Natalie's gonna give her half of her oscar or anything like that.

The same thing happened regarding Flashdance, remember???For some reason Actors have to believe they do it all, at least all of it that matters. You get the same thing regarding stunts, every one in Hollywood says they do their own. Do you seriously believe that a studio is going to let an actor hang off a train? Not to mention the insurance costs. And what do those people who are listed as stunt artists do if not stunts. Natalie probably did less than she thinks and more than Sarah Lane thinks. Only the choreographer knows and he's not telling.

The movie is a drama thriller mystery about a dancer that goes insane it's not a not a dance movie...It's really only dancers whining about all of this and at the end of the day it rests on the acting...Which was phenomenal !

It's over folks the fat lady has finished her song.
No one cares.

Look, Ms. Lane was hired for a job and received payment for it. if she wanted acknowldgement that her role was intrinisic to the movie's realistic portrayal of a ballerina, she should have negotiated that into her contract. All this talk about art, and dance, the perfidy of Hollywood etc, is not acknowledging this underlying fact. If she thought she had a valid point about recognition and truthfulness, she should have had the courage to speak up when it mattered- before the Oscars. Does she think this makes her attractive to future employers of any stripe? The only people on her side are dance folks. By waiting, she just sounds like sour grapes to the majority of the world, which knows nothing about dance/ballet and knows that Hollywood is all about the hyperbole.


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