Minggu, 27 Maret 2011

Natalie Portman’s Black Swan ballerina body-double calls out the lies (update)

Natalie Portman’s Black Swan ballerina body-double calls out the lies (update)

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Earlier this week, we covered an interview the Los Angeles Times did with Benjamin Millepied, Natalie Portman’s baby-daddy and choreographer on Black Swan. Benjamin seemed to be defending (sort of) Natalie from criticism that there was perhaps a white-washing regarding her ballet skills in Black Swan. Natalie’s “stunt ballerina” Sarah Lane had given an interview in December where she claimed people from the studio “were trying to create this facade that she had become a ballerina in a year-and-a-half. So I knew they didn’t want to publicize anything about me.” Natalie Portman had talked a lot about how much work she did - more than a year of preparation in ballet and dance, transforming her body and losing weight - in many interviews while promoting Black Swan. Benjamin backed her up in the LAT interview, saying that “85%” of what you see on film is actually Natalie. So, of course, Sarah Lane had to give yet another interview, and this time she’s really bringing it:

    The ballerina who served as a dancing double for Natalie Portman’s Oscar-winnning role in Black Swan tells EW she has been the victim of a “cover-up” to mislead the public about how much dancing Portman actually did in the film. “Of the full body shots, I would say 5 percent are Natalie,” says Sarah Lane, 27, an American Ballet Theatre soloist who performed many of the film’s complicated dance sequences, allowing Portman’s face to be digitally grafted onto her body. “All the other shots are me.”

    Lane’s claim follows a March 23 L.A. Times article in which Portman’s fiancé and Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied said Lane’s work in the film was far less significant. “There are articles now talking about her dance double [American Ballet Theatre dancer Sarah Lane] that 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,” he said. “Honestly, 85 percent of that movie is Natalie.”

    Lane disagrees. “The shots that are just her face with arms, those shots are definitely Natalie,” she says. “But that doesn’t show the actual dancing.” Lane admits that she was never promised a particular title for her six weeks of work on the film, though she was disappointed to see that she is credited only as “Hand Model,” “Stunt Double,” and “Lady in the Lane” (a brief walk-on role).

    Lane also says that Black Swan producer Ari Handel specifically told her not to talk about her work to the press, even though she claims there was no such stipulation in her contract. “They wanted to create this idea in people’s minds that Natalie was some kind of prodigy or so gifted in dance and really worked so hard to make herself a ballerina in a year and a half for the movie, basically because of the Oscar,” says Lane. “It is demeaning to the profession and not just to me. I’ve been doing this for 22 years…. Can you become a concert pianist in a year and a half, even if you’re a movie star?”

    Reps for Portman, Fox Searchlight, and Handel have yet to provide comments on the matter.

    Lane is barely seen in promotional materials for the movie, including a VFX reel posted by studio Fox Searchlight that appears to show all the digital alterations made to key dance sequences. An unverified version of that reel, leaked to YouTube, seems to shows how digital face replacement was used to put Portman’s head on Lane’s body. (The clip was included in a blog post by Dance Magazine‘s Wendy Perron, who wrote about Lane’s story earlier this month.)

    According to Lane, Portman’s dramatic transformation into a ballerina — a narrative firmly at the center of her successful Oscar campaign — wasn’t as impressive as the public was led to believe. “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,” says Lane. “I do give her a lot of credit because in a year and a half she lost a lot of weight and she really tried to go method and get into a dancers head and really feel like a ballet dancer.”

    In interviews, Portman didn’t hide the fact that she had used a body double for key sequences in the film, though Lane’s name, and the extent of her work, were played down.

    “I do have a double for the complicated turning stuff,” Portman told EW last November. “It was not anything I ever could have done in a year, nothing I could’ve caught up with. But I think it was just better for all of us if I did as much as possible.”

    Lane insists she isn’t speaking out of jealousy over Portman’s acclaim. “[Natalie] is an amazing actress, for sure,” she says. “I know that it’s not a personal thing against me. I know that it’s just a political thing. It’s just unfortunate that I kind of lost credit.”
[From Entertainment Weekly]

While it does sound like Lane has a larger axe to grind than lost credit, I completely agree with many of her points, especially “They wanted to create this idea in people’s minds that Natalie was some kind of prodigy or so gifted in dance and really worked so hard to make herself a ballerina in a year and a half for the movie, basically because of the Oscar…It is demeaning to the profession and not just to me. I’ve been doing this for 22 years…. Can you become a concert pianist in a year and a half, even if you’re a movie star?” I’d like to see Portman refute that. I really would.

And seriously, what would it hurt for Darren Aronofsky to come out and seriously discuss how much Lane was utilized in the final film, and what Natalie’s year of preparation really got her as far as quality? She’s got the Oscar already - they can’t take it back. If these accusations just sit around, hanging in the air, Natalie’s Oscar win does seem tainted, and like the campaign was waged on false pretenses.

Just to play devil’s advocate and actually go pro-Portman (I know, shocking!), as I said, it does sound like Lane has an axe to grind. Perhaps it’s about money, perhaps about the film production wasting her time, perhaps it’s about her genuinely feeling insulted by being ignored. Or maybe Natalie really did do a lot of her own dancing, and Lane is just a famewhore trying to get attention. But if that was the case, why didn’t she speak up during the Oscar campaign, when it actually would have gotten so much attention?

So who do you believe - the self-proclaimed wronged ballerina, or Smugface Conceiving The Conception Portman and her Ballet Famewhore K-Fed? 



UPDATE: The studio released a statement about Lane’s comments. The official response: “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. However, Natalie herself did most of the dancing featured in the final film.” MOST is not technical enough. I want a percentage!


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celebitchy/Photos courtesy of WENN.

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