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About (Late) Last Night: Natalie Portman, injured on set, is healthy for Oscar season

November 23, 2010 |  7:01 am

Get used to a winter filled with Natalie Portman. The actress stars in the forthcoming Darren Aronofsky film "Black Swan," which opened the Venice Film Festival in September and will see a limited release on Dec. 3, but on Monday night, her press tour kicked off on "The Late Show With David Letterman." Already in tip-top shape as a charmer and storyteller, Portman was radiant and ready.

If all goes according to plan, Portman's performance and parade of press will culminate at the Oscars with the Academy Award for best actress. ("That's it! The best actress race is already over!" said one Oscar journalist breathlessly upon seeing the film.) But with Letterman, she was content to joke and glow in a yellow Valentino dress. 

"I had to lose weight to look like a ballerina," said Portman, who took dance lessons beginning at the age of 4. "I think I lost like 20 pounds." The actress is only 5-foot-3l, so "it was pretty extreme."

"You used to be a pig," Letterman joked. "Here comes Natalie, waddling on out."

"Now you tell me," Portman said, laughing.

The slimming down may have weakened the star, though, because even after five-hour training sessions every day for six months, she still got injured, dislocating a rib while being lifted during filming. "It sort of went under another one," she explained.

"When I got injured, I called the producer and was like, 'Can you get the medic? I need an ice pack or something right now, an Advil,' " said Portman. The actress was informed that the production did not actually have a medic. "I've been working for 20 years -- I don't even think that's legal," she said. "Before you take away a medic, take away my trailer! And the next day, I didn't have a trailer." 

Expect variations on this story -- and others about her grueling "Black Swan" performance -- on Portman's campaign through the end of the year. And now that her rib has healed and she's back to her "healthy weight," let's hope she can still lift a golden statue.

-- Joe Coscarelli

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