Monday, March 28, 2011

Darren Aronofsky Comes To Natalie Portman's Defense


Last week, Sarah Lane gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly. No big deal really because no one really knows who Sarah Lane is. Well, she is the body and dancing double of Natalie Portman in Black Swan and says she did 95% of all the full body shots. She also said that she was ordered to be quiet during awards season so Natalie could get all the credit. Well, somehow between Friday and today, Darren Aronofsky had his editor go through the entire movie, count all the dancing shots, and determine that Natalie is actually in 90% of all the dancing shots. "I had my editor count. There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane."

Do we believe Darren? I don't know. I do know he is probably less concerned about the feelings of Sarah Lane than he is about Academy Award winner Natalie Portman. I don't think Natalie even thanked Sarah. That probably would have been nice. I don't doubt that Natalie worked hard to prepare and to dance, but what is the big deal about giving some credit to Sarah Lane?

55 comments:

califblondy said...

I remember being shocked when the double for Jennifer Beals (Flashdance) came out that she did most of the dancing. I didn't want to believe it. Now everytime I see the move, which has been a jillion times, it's soooo obvious that it's not Jennifer.

Jackie said...

It wasn't the dancing, but the transformation from white to black swan that Natalie went through in the film. I understand thanking your double, but it's not a punishable offense. Sounds to me like a certain dancer wants some more work...

looserdude said...

The Academy Awards tries to limit the time winners spend up on stage thanking all "the little people". In hindsight I bet NP wishes she had thanked Sarah Lane just to shut the bitch up! (As if)

Majik said...

So everyone needs to thank their body-doubles, now? How about their stand ins? Getting a little ridiculous--all it shows is the fame whoriness that seems to be running rampant through modern society.

Where's my cane, dammit?

Miss X said...

Sarah probably expected to get more recognition for her hard work. I didn't see the movie so I can't judge how much NP danced.

FS said...

Sorry, but Sarah Lane comes off as a whiny brat in this whole thing. Portman didn't win for her dancing, and actors rarely thank their standins and stunt doubles in academy award speeches. I understand her being upset that she was incorrectly listed in the credits, but Portman has mentioned and thanked her in interviews. Look for doubles being asked to sign agreements from now on because of this silliness.

Sis said...

A "thank you" would have been nice especially since she won the Academy Award Oscar.

parissucksliterally said...

I thought Natalie's acting sucked in that movie. I am still baffled at all the accolades she got for gasping, and having a grimace on her face for two hours.

I do not believe Aronofsky.

Coloratura said...

I see we have quite a few non-dancers in these comments.

Let me fill try to bring you up to speed in just a few words: Portman is NOT, I repeat, NOT A BALLET DANCER.

Not by any stretch of the imagination.

What Ms. Lane said at the beginning of the interview is more than true: for NP to claim that 85% of the dancing is hers is truly an insult to Ms. Lane and professional dancers everywhere.

It takes YEARS to become as good as Ms. Lane. Years, blood, sweat and tears.

The NP did not thank her in her acceptance speech is proof of the kind of person she is. I am not at all surprised that she didn't, but it's not right.

Bravo to Ms. Lane for speaking up for all dancers everywhere.

Sunnyhorse said...

I'm assuming Lane appeared in the after-credits, so she really needs to can it. I'm getting really tired of everyone who's ever set foot in a ballet studio jumping all over Natalie Portman. She is an actress who played a ballerina, and she did what training and dancing she could in the film. Why is this any different from an actress who portrays a superhero, or a cowgirl, or any other character who must engage in physical activity?

Ms Cool said...

Did Sarah Lane get paid for her work? End of point.

linnea said...

I think part of the controversy is also about them trying to cover up that Lane did some of the dancing. For example, I saw on Gawker that they took down a video showing how the special effects worked, in which they took Lane's body and attached Portman's head onto it.

Anonymous said...

Linnea is correct. The original video has disappeared and been substituted with something watered down.

Sarah Lane was only credited as "Lady in the Lane" which was a non-dancing role on screen for a second. She was not credited for her dancing.

I think Sarah was responding to some things that Millepied was saying in interviews, etc. Over time during the Oscar campaign he and the the studio were building up Portman and diminshing the contribution of others and it seems to have reached a tipping point.

Sarah may be coming off as defensive but I think she was pushed in a corner by Millepied, whose ego has gotten the best of him. They both need to pipe down and let Natalie have her day.

FS said...

She wasn't listed as 'dance double' in the credits, just part of the corps and hand model or something like that. Honestly, if we're going to go on and on about how many public accolades she deserves for being the double, then we have to start naming and thanking the techs who made the editing look so convincing. I barely remember the dancing in that movie, but I'll put Sarah up on a pedestal if she can prove she was the body double for 'that scene' with Mila Kunis. ;)

PS - I was a dancer, and yes I know it takes forever to get correct technique in ballet. What Mila and Natalie were able to accomplish with their intensive training in a short amount of time was impressive, and perfectly adequate for the type of shots it was used for.

Krystal said...
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Krystal said...
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Krystal said...

@Coloratura - I couldn't agree more. The fact that they want to try to convince people that an actress can master an art that takes years of dedication, immense pain and talent is an insult to real dancers everywhere. Like the dancer said in the article, who would think that someone could become a classically trained pianist in one year? We wouldn't. So to assume the same could be true for dance is definitely an insult.

I don't think Sarah Lane would have been so angry if they had bothered to acknowledge her as more than a mere extra in the credits. The fact that they credited her as such shows that they were trying to cover up the fact that Natalie had a body double who did the majority of the work.

She didn't receive the Oscar for her dancing, so why is it such a big deal to admit that she had a lot of help from an ABT dancer? The entire time I watched it I kept thinking to myself, ‘I hope they don’t expect us to believe that that is her?'. In my opinion her acting was great and so this fact didn’t take away from the movie for me, but no one who studies dance or is a dancer was going to be convinced, so the blatant crap about it being 90% Natalie that is being pushed right now is insulting. The fact is, the dancer made the movie more believable and enhanced Natalie’s performance. A simple acknowledgement of this probably would have gone a long way.

rose said...

I agree, she probably only wanted some acknowledgments. I'm not a dancer but I know that ballet dancers who go on to big dance companies start when they are little and don't take a ten year break.

I was under the impression ballet dancers train morning to night anyway so how would NP relearn in a year?

The awards are for acting though, so NP won it. I do think if this is true she could have saved the little scandal by thanking Sarah somewhere.

Krystal said...

@FS- I agree with a lot of what you said but the only difference is that techs and editors do get awards and recognition so doubles who show some sort of talent (dancers/stunt men) and improve the movie probably would like a little too. Obviously that's never going to happen in HW, but they can wish. :D

MISCH said...

I hated the movie....thought Portman was whiny and annoying...didn't even stay to the end...

trouble bubble said...

Sarah is also mentioned in "Stunts" section and what other stunts do you expect in ballet movie other that dancing?

Krystal said...

@Misch - I felt the same about Titanic when it came out. Everyone loved it and I got up and walked out. It's crazy how that happens sometimes. :)

Amy said...

I think it's absurd they don't more clearly give end movie credits to the body doubles.

That said, I also think it's entirely possible Natalie was in 90 percent of the dancing shots unaltered. I think the only possible P.R. reason they'd be stubborn about it at this point is because it is, in fact, Natalie.

weezy said...

Closing credits assembly for feature motion pictures is complicated. It's governed largely by guild/union regs and then contractual requrements, and customary placement. After that it's up to the producers. They clearly decided to bury Lane among the stunt crew -- technically that's where her job description put her.

Was it tacky, rude and disengenuous? Yes, but so is much of the movie business.

jen said...

From what I've been able to gather, Sarah Lane only said anything in the first place because that twat Benjamin Millepied said Natalie did most of the dancing. What this means to me is, Sarah Lane has WAY more of a problem with Benjamin than Natalie. I don't think she would have said shit had Benjamin, A FELLOW DANCER WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER, hadn't opened his yap & flat out lied.

I think she's reacting to Benjamin, not Natalie. All I know is this just makes Benjamin look even shadier in my eyes.

nancer said...

how do you know she didn't thank her? frankly, even if she didn't, so what?
portman is an actress. she went through a lot for this role, no matter what the truth is about the percentage of things she did vs. what this other chick did.
this is a stupid argument started by a real DANCER---who should be happy she was in the movie and move the fuck ON.

Anotheramy said...

It takes years of dedication and hard work to become the best in the stunt business. Stunt people suffer bruises, broken bones, concussions, brain damage, organ damage and failure, burns etc. If the stunts dont kill them, you can be sure they have shortened and very painful lives from the injuries they've endured. Ever try falling 50 feet? Yes you land on an air bed but it still jars every bone and organ in your body. Peeing blood and blinding headaches are not uncommon.
They risk their lives every work day yet Tom Cruise gets all the accolades... wait, bad example.

Basil said...

This same sort of thing happened with Jennifer Beals and Flashdance, as someone upthread pointed out. It also happened with Angie Dickinson with Dressed to Kill when people for some reason were surprised she used a body double. Personally, I think the fact that people are surprised speaks more about how well the movie was crafted, than whether someone got a thank you or not. She did get a paycheque. But I suspect that will be the last check she gets from Hollywood. Hollywood doesn't really like tittle tattles who lift the corner of the veil.

nunaurbiz said...

I remember Harrison Ford widely praising his stunt double for his work in the Indiana Jones series and I thought, "Now THAT is class!"

Julie said...

I read an interview with sarah lane which mentioned her relationship with portman as being an uncomfortable one since she is close friends with the ballet dancer benjamin was living with and left for natalie.

i'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned as a possible reason for her speaking out - or as someone mentioned- directing her comments towards benjamin.

Krissie said...

Natalie definitely didn't win that Oscar just for her acting. The whole Oscar campaign was about how she became a professional-level ballerina in such a short time and how dedicated she was to her craft, not just the acting part but "becoming" a ballerina as well. So I can see why Sarah Lane is angry that Natalie didn't even throw her a bone during her acceptance speech.

However, I hope Ms. Lane realizes she will probably never work in Hollywood again after this. I'm sure she's already been labeled as "difficult" and a whistle blower by everyone in the biz.

Amy said...
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rachelstargirlrox said...

Okay. As someone who has taken ballet for over 8 years now, let me clear a few things up.

1. Natalie Portman trained for a year prior to filming. Regardless of what the film makers would have you believe, that is NOT enough time to be a competent dancer en pointe, or even at all.
2. While watching Black Swan, if you know anything about pointe shoes or ballet, you'll notice that in the shots where Natalie Portman is wearing pointe shoes, her feet look much different from the close up shots of "her" feet going on pointe.
3. Sarah Lane has been dancing for 22 years. She didn't even get credited in the film as Natalie Portman's body double. She got credited for other small bit parts she played.
4. There's a film reel going around the internet that shows how producers grafted Portman's head onto Sarah Lane's body for some of the shots.

So. I don't blame Sarah Lane for wanting more credit. It's really really obvious that Natalie Portman didn't do the majority of the dancing in the film.

rachelstargirlrox said...

*sigh* End rant.

Sorry for going on and on. As a dancer, it just really pisses me off that Hollywood and the Academy have made it seem like Natalie Portman is some sort of amaaaazing prodigial person who went from nothing to prima ballerina in a year. Which is total bullshit.

:]

Kid Sis said...

It's not about the credit in the film. It's how the Oscar campaign was run in Hollywood. They didn't push Natalie's acting at all. It was all about how she spent a year training to become the head ballerina and that deserved the Oscar, in the same vein that Meryl Streep learning another accent or how to play the violin was mastery of "acting".

Annette Bening should be pissed.

hunter said...

@colatura @Krystal I agree with you - and @Kid Sis - slanting the Oscar campaign to make it appear that Natalie was able to become a prima ballerina in one year was the real wrong. Also, not giving Sarah a credit as "dance double." To me that smacks of a cover up. Honestly, if Sarah had gotten her paycheck and a proper credit, I'd say she should just walk away, shut up and be professional. In fact, I still think its classless to come out now publicly and share that info. Behind the scenes people know all the tricks of the trade and it's understood that they/we won't blab about them. So I see both sides of it. But it really was wrong to sell Portman as someone who was miraculously able to become a virtuoso ballerina just for this role. Can't blame Natalie for that. Blame the PR people behind her awards campaign.

linnea said...

@ all of you

For those of you who "ranted" about this - thank you! This was a very interesting discussion to follow and I can honestly say you gave me something to think about.

I would be pissed if someone claimed to have aquired a skill I had spent decades perfecting.

marias_treasure_box said...

Natalie won the Oscar for her acting, not for becoming a ballerina.
This ballerina is living up to the stereotype.
She needs to STFU.

Ann said...

Ok, call me a cynic but the dvd & blu ray are being released tomorrow. Does anyone else see the connection of media attention = lots of sales

warmislandsun said...

Exactly, Ann. Exactly.

lyz said...

I loved Black Swan and don't give a flip whether or not Natalie Portman did the dancing. The characters in Avatar weren't really blue animations, but I still liked the movie. It's a MOVIE. Natalie Portman is an actress, not a ballerina. If she was a ballerina, she'd be a BALLERINA and not an actress. It's all just sour grapes as far as I can see.

Sarah Lane got to work in a cool movie, did cool dancing, got paid for it and can add it to her resume. It would have been nice for her to have been in the credits, but really...so what. Next time she can negotiate that up front...and if she doesn't like her next terms there will be a line of ballerinas ready to take her place.

childeroland said...

I can't recall Portman claiming she did all her own dancing, just that she worked hard to do the dancing that ended up on film. Certainly the filmmakers should have been more up front about the work that Lane (and the other double--does Lane ever mention her? hmm) put in. But Portman didn’t win an Oscar for dancing. Sounds to me like someone is trying to catapult herself into greater fame.

shiny_special_one said...

I'm sick of the drama around this "uproar'/"outrage." Really, GMAFB. I don't think NP, Aronofsky, or even the studio ever claimed Portman did all the dancing, especially the intricate stuff. I at least somewhat keep up with this stuff because I am a freelance entertainment writer, and I don't remember any of the aforementioned ever tring to claim Portman was some kind of dance prodigy. What they said was that she worked hard for over a year learning basic ballet moves and trying to make her body look like a ballerina's. In any case, the point of receiving an Oscar is about acting, not about how well one can dance or how well one can "pick up" ballet. So Sarah Lane needs to shut it, imo.

Jamie's Girl said...

When the hell have we ever heard about someone else's body double? Who cares? She wasn't thanked? The story was NOT on Lane's life. It was a fictitious story. SHe was the stunt double. The stunt is dancing. Grow up people!

empyrios said...

there's a huge difference between training to LOOK like you are a professional dancer (or fill in the blank however you wish) and actually doing it live.

i don't think anybody claimed that Natalie could open Swan Lake with ABT or anything.

the claim is that she perfected the art of "appearing" to be a ballerina which is the whole point of movie making, the Oscars etc.

i don't think too many serial killers are out there debating the technical holes in the performance of Charlize Theron in "Monster", lol

Julie said...

sounds like someone didn't get accepted as a friend/colleague on linkedin or facebook.

MCH said...

@jen - That is what I gathered from reading the Gawker articles, too.

It is an interesting discussion for sure...

I wonder what Annette Bening (And all the other nominees) thought about this?

mazemerizing said...

Movie was great. Natalie was great, and I am so not a fan. (Except The Professional.) I'm not a dancer, but never for one single second did I think she was doing all the dancing. I think the producers and/or studio execs should understand that most of us are more aware and educated about special effects, editing tricks than they probably are; that there was no reason to hide the fact that Natalie had help with the dancing; that we know Natalie's year's training was more to get that dancer's body and prepare for an acting role than to become so awesome she could audition for the ABT; that even if you took out all the dancing, and saw Natalie ACT more and more batshit crazy, that that would be reason enough for her to win the Oscar. And by trying to get us to believe that she's a better ballet dancer than she is only shows that the producers, director, baby daddy choreographer and studio execs didn't believe Natalie's acting was enough for her to win awards and had to lie/elaborate and push this 90% her dancing crap to increase her chances. If I was Natalie Portman, I'd be greatly offended. And Sarah Lane and all the dancers should have gotten a better end credit. I'm done now.

Cancan said...

The problem is, a lot of people *do* think she did all the dancing. Certainly it's what the PR runup to the movie's release led everyone to believe. So people who don't follow gossip blogs assume from the way she talked about it, she spent a year dancing 5 hours a day to get ready, and that's her doing all the dancing. Who believes this? My dad. My husband. My brothers. The 3 soccer moms I saw the movie with. Although they are generally savvy people about the art and science of moviemaking, they got the impression from all the talk show appearances, magazine profiles, etc. that it was ALL NATALIE. That was the movie's narrative, and a lot of people believe it. So although I don't really care about Sarah Lane (I think she's seeeking too much credit - the point of a double is to be invisible and seamless) it is disingenuous and unfair for Natalie (with Darren's help) to take the lion's share of the credit for herself.

But Natalie sucks anyway and I will never forgive her for Episodes 1-3.

Dianne said...

I didn't see the movie, but my assumption (before this stuff hit) would be that they had Natalie dance most if not all of the dance sequences and used shots of her whenever they could, and shots of the doubles when they couldn't. (That's pretty much how they did Flashdance, but that was before there was a lot of CGI, so maybe things were different.)

If there is going to be a close-up of someone on pointe or doing fast little jumps, I would assume they'd have to use a double, as the feet of a trained ballerina just look different, and you can't fake that.

From the perspective of Natalie and the film-makers, she trained really hard and she danced a lot. They could have found a way to talk about it that gave Natalie due credit for what she accomplished and also acknowledged the contribution of the dance doubles--not to mention the contribution of the editors who apparently made it look pretty seamless.

That's just my opinion of course.

crila16 said...

Sarah Lane needs to shut up, grow up and stop with the whining. Did she not get paid and sign a contract agreeing to dance? Did she not know she was hired to do Natalie's dance shots? This is Hollywood. It's all pretend. She's just mad that everyone thinks Natalie is a phenominal dancer, and Sarah's ego is hurt that she didn't get credit. Too bad. You knew going into this. If Natalie hadn't won and Oscar, Sarah wouldn't have said a word or cared as much. It's like the stunt men who make all the stars look awesome and they don't get credit for it. They understand it's part of their job that they agreed to do...they rarely get credit or thanked. They're not fame seekers like Sarah.

linnea said...

Crila - actually, I very much doubt it has something to do with the Oscar and more to do with the fact that she is now allowed to speak about it. She was not prior to the awards.

Sunnyhorse said...

"But Natalie sucks anyway and I will never forgive her for Episodes 1-3."

It's not her fault she had shitty writing to work with. I never understood the allure of the Star Wars films anyway -- George Lucas may be a nice man, but he cannot write his way out of a wet paper bag -- but those prequels were especially awful.

crila16 said...

Linnea. You missed my point. Sarah was not allowed to talk about it (via her contract), but did so after Natalie won the Oscar. It's all about Sarah's Ego and wanted her kudos, otherwise Sarah would most likely have stuck to her contract and not cared or mentioned it if the movie hadn't become such a big deal and an Oscar contender.

linnea said...

I am not sure - it seems as though the reason for why she spoke out about it now was that
a) she was allowed to do so once the oscars were over and
b) someone actually asked her a question about it in an interview.

Would she have still answered that question had Natalie not won? Who knows.

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