It was Natalie Portman in Black Swan that earned her an Academy Award (and a Golden Globe). However, it was during her graduation speech at Harvard University that she shared with the world that she was unprepared for this role. The role earned her an Oscar, but she felt that she was unprepared for it. However, she wasn’t complaining. She was merely pointing out that sometimes you are unprepared for things, and it’s the best thing you can do. “The point is, if I had known my own limitations, I never would have taken the risk. And the risk led to one of my greatest personal and professional achievements,” she said in her speech. It makes us wonder. What else do we not know about Natalie Portman’s Black Swan role?
Black Swan Was a Long-Considered Idea
The movie itself was released in 2010, but it was an idea that Darren Aronofsky had many years prior. In fact, he met with actress Natalie Portman in the year 2000 to discuss the movie. He had it all figured out in his mind – or so he thought – and he knew that the role of the Black Swan would go to Natalie Portman. She was on board with it, but things just didn’t pan out quickly enough. Oftentimes in Hollywood, an idea for a movie takes years to manifest and make a reality. For Portman, it would be a decade before this wonderful movie she wanted to star in would be made.
In fact, she spent years telling Darren Aronofsky that she was only getting older. And getting older makes it more and more difficult to be a ballerina – even if you are only playing one in a movie. Why did it take so long to put it together? The truth is that no professional ballerinas wanted to let a bunch of actors and producers, and directors into their world to learn how it is done and what it takes. You see, it’s a demanding, difficult, hard job – and those doing it had no time to babysit a bunch of Hollywood types to make this movie happen. At the end of the day, they were not interested.
The Role Made Portman Think She Might Die
People joke about it all the time, but she was not joking. For this role, Portman was required to lose 20 pounds. The thing about Natalie Portman, however, is that she’s already a petite thing with no extra weight on her body. Losing 20 pounds for this role was a problem for her that was not easy to overcome. She was not just thin making this movie. She was emaciated, and she was literally starving because she could not eat to maintain the level of thinness she had to be to take on the role.
On the flip side of things, she was also required to become a ballerina. Any good ballet dancer knows that this is a lot of work, and ballerinas spend hours a day practicing every day of their lives for many years. Natalie Portman was starving to death, and she was dancing 16 hours per day to learn how to look like a professional ballerina. She was miserable, and the role was difficult on her body.
Black Swan Was Natalie Portman’s First Method Acting Job
Method acting is basically when you turn into the character you are playing. She did so in this film, and it was a lot for her. She didn’t mean to, but it happened. Portman spent nearly 16 hours per day dancing, and she was doing so while eating only almonds and carrots. For months at a time. She was starving. Portman was miserable, and she realized she had become the character. She did not intend to become the character, but it’s difficult not to when you are living your life as the character. Her toenails fell off. She dislocated a rib.
But none of it mattered. Real ballerinas dance through the pain because the idea of being injured could mean the end of their careers. She danced through the pain, and she turned into the Black Swan. It’s why she’s an Oscar winner.
The Director Wanted Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis to Have Real Tension
In the movie, they are competing ballerinas, both working hard to win and be the best. In real life, however, the two were great friends for many years. The director wanted real tension between them, and he did a lot to try and make that happen. However, there was very little winning for him because the two were such friends already. However, their on-screen tension worked well for both, and the movie was a smashing success. Portman thought it might take her down, but she learned a lot, and she did what she had to do. And it was her lack of experience and knowledge about how difficult this would be that gave her the bravery to take on the role.