Body Double Claims Natalie Portman Barely Dances in Black Swan

Update: Darren Aronofsky has responded to the controversy and verifies that at least 80% of the dance shots feature Natalie Portman untouched.

It looks like we’ve got some controversy over Black Swan. Natalie Portman’s double, Sarah Lane, has come out to claim that she is responsible for practically all the dancing audiences see in the movie. Lane is quoted as saying, “Of the full body shots, I would say 5 percent are Natalie.” The rest of the time, Portman’s face was supposedly grafted onto Lane’s body. Portman’s fiancee and choreographer on Black Swan, Benjamin Millepied, recently refuted any claims that Lane’s involvement was so large, saying that 85% of the dancing is Portman. Lane says that producer Ari Handel told her specifically not to talk to the press about her work on the film, even though there wasn’t any stipulation about that in her contract. Read more of Lane’s statements after the break.


“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?”

Even though we’ve seen behind-the-scenes VFX footage of Portman’s head being placed on Lane’s body, is it possible that it could have been taken to this extent? The film’s small budget might make some people say no, but, then again, we’ve seen quite a bit done with little money in the past few years. Certainly Portman’s dancing was played up heavily during awards season and that helped lead to a plethora of statues. If these allegations are true, would they negate Portman’s overall performance? Why do you think Lane has waited until now to speak up on the issue? Sound off on the whole situation in the comments.

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  • http://slushiemanjunkdrawer.blogspot.com/ Slushie Man

    The real question is – who cares? I fail to see why some movie sites (Not this one) are blowing this up and making SUCH a big deal out of it. Movies are Make Believe, and as long as what’s being portrayed ON-SCREEN is believable to the world set up by the movie, then who really gives a shit how much of it is accurately real? Who cares if it wasn’t really Portman? As long as in the movie itself, she’s believable, then does it really matter HOW they got to that point?

  • http://twitter.com/rjdelight rjdelight

    Agreed. Portman gave a great performance. The academy didn’t give her an Oscar because of the dancing.

  • Werner

    The movie was sold with the fact that Natalie Portman does most of the dancing!!!
    Every interview, every article, every review was praising Portman’s dedication and hard labour. If Portman did hardly any dancing, it IS A BIG DEAL!

  • Faggymcbitchtits

    I AM SHOCKED.

  • mark

    Just saw the movie last night. I thought it was wonderful, and if portman DIDN’T dance, It sure as hell seemed like she did, that body double did her job well.

  • TheBlueCrow

    RE: Who cares?

    I was under the impression the criticism here isn’t regarding the movie itself, but of the performer. I don’t think people upon hearing this story would go and re-think about how good the movie is, but rather, judge the actress. It’s natural for people to care about giving credit where credit is due, and feel indignant. That includes Sarah Lane and Natalie Portman.

  • Robin

    She would never have won the oscar without the dancing.

  • Kasper

    Don’t care. I would say who gives a shit, but apparently a lot of sad, sad people do.

  • http://slushiemanjunkdrawer.blogspot.com/ Slushie Man

    Agreed Kasper. It doesn’t change the movie, or the quality of the movie, one iota, but some blogs and movie news sites are treating it as such a thing. It’s sad.

  • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/226d821c77d3c502426774727ef2826e.png Juan Costrada

    It certainly doesn’t change the film and shouldn’t change how the film is perceived, but I think it is more sad to be happily duped by a Hollywood campaign. As TheBlueCrow says, people care about giving credit where it is due.

  • Kasper

    Re: Juan Costrada

    Her job was as a body double, it’s supposed to not be known what she actually doubles and what she doesn’t. Their job isn’t to get recognised for their work, but to keep the illusion alive.

  • The Man

    “I don’t care if you dance. But your gonna eat that pussy bitch…” -Darren aronofsky

  • Yasser Serious

    I think everyone is missing the big issue here – If that really is HER body doing the dancing and NOT Nat’s, the big question is :

    IS THIS GIRL SINGLE ?

  • Fatbologna

    Fuckin’ typical chick bullshit. Jealous bitches need to stop…

  • karl hearts

    who cares? they released a fx real showing portman’s face being put onto the double. no one trying to hide anything. and they didnt give her the oscar cause of her dancing ability. no would would expect someone to be that good that fast. it takes years upon years and anyone who thought it was her needs to take a long hard look at their intelligence. the double is just jealous.

  • TheBlueCrow

    So are the people who are saying ‘who cares’ (and accept Sarah Lane’s claim) essentially saying they don’t mind about being lied to?

  • TheBlueCrow

    @ Kasper

    Getting recognized and getting credited are two totally separate things. Why would it be ok for anyone to boast about other peoples’ work as if they were their own?

    This is not an attack on the movie. This is not an attack on Portman’s acting ability. This is just a fundamental issue of what is truth and what is not. It seems those who are biased are inclined to dismiss it.

  • Derek McFarland

    “Portman’s fiancee and choreographer on Black Swan, Benjamin Millepied, recently REFUTED any claims that Lane’s involvement was so large, saying that 85% of the dancing is Portman. Lane says that producer Ari Handel told her specifically NOT to talk to the press about her work on the film, even though there wasn’t any stipulation about that in her contract.”

    I thought Black Swan was a great flick, and when I had gotten word that she did most of her dance stunts, I thought that made the film seem even cooler (considering what a huge Portman fan I am). But if what Lane is stating is true, then I can see how she would be pissed, for not getting the credit she rightfully deserved (as a TRUE dance performer); being told by the producer to keep her mouth shut to the press, and even more so, having to deal with Portman’s fiance/choreographer denying her statement(assuming Lane actually did do most of the stunts). In my opinion, it does change things a bit. Not for the story of the film, but perhaps for What’s true and what isn’t.

    Of course there are those who will say, “who gives a shit? It’s not the stunt doubles job to be noticed; only to be a hired tool, take the money, and to shut the fuck up to the press, about the truth.”
    (more or less)

    I disagree… If Lane did most of those awesome dance moves, I feel she should have been recognized for it (career wise). Covering it up just to make Portman look even better than she already does, would be pretty shitty, to the “smaller entertainer”

    It would almost be like finding out that 85% of
    Elvis Presley’s performances were lip synced by a “talented nobody”; or 85% of Jet Li’s movie stunts were actually done by some “no named martial arts master”. I think it possibly would change the way we see the performers, that we paid to see; a bit.

    Not giving a shit about who did what in a film, is “whatever”.

    But to those that do give a shit (like Lane “the real dancer”, or any fans of hers) especially if there’s a cover up involved… It’ll most likely be a big deal.

    I say, after Portman spits out her baby, her & Lane should battle it out on stage in front of a video carmera
    (choreographed by Millepied, but not produced by Ari Handel of course) lol. Lets get this shit settled once and for all, and see who’s lyin.

  • Flash

    Thank you, Derek McFarland.

    I was getting the feeling those who really loved the movie or really loved Natalie Portman were misguided by their zeal. If you truly respect the movie/her then you would praised it/her on the merits of them, and them alone. Not others. You showed you can be passionate about one thing and still be level-headed.

  • Goon

    Whether or not she did the part doesn’t make the movie any better or worse.

    However I think considering all the times this film was screened in front of actual ballerinas, and they described her acting as ‘passable’ rather than true pro work, I don’t see why Lane would now want to take credit.

    Likewise, Rourke put in a lot of work to play the Wrestler, but his actual wrestling isn’t high caliber by any means, it is meant to look good in editing and get the job done for the film.

    On top of this, I trust Aronofsky’s and Portman’s integrity, so from where I stand I’d need more than just Lane’s word. I can believe that Lane THINKS its mostly her on screen the same way I believe Rebecca Eckler THINKS her shitty book was ripped off to make Knocked UP. I just don’t think that makes it actually true.

  • Goon

    It doesnt take much work to see that this Lane woman is probably mistaken:

    Natalie had another double named Kimberly Prosa who said this about the accusation over a week ago:

    “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.”
    “She [Portman] definitely put her work in. Just in a couple of months, she looked credible — all the dancers on the set were really impressed at how well she pulled that off — it was pretty amazing.”

  • djangoscud

    Sarah Lane did NOT direct, edit, or create any fx in post for Black Swan. How the hell would she know? This is as silly as Mocap being call “performance capture” or people griping that Julia Robert’s body in Pretty Woman was Donna Scoggins.
    After all the editing and post production is over and a final cut agreed on what matters is how well you were entertained or if you enjoyed the film.
    It doesn’t matter who performed the stunts for an action star or who sang the background track for an actor in a drama.They all receive a credit and a paycheck.In return we get to be entertained.

  • patrik

    I don´t give a shit, Portman still gives a great performance.. Johnny Depps performance in the first POTC would still be great even if someone else did all the swordfighting.. I´m sure there´s many examples like this and it´s kind of a dick move by this Lane if what she claims is true cause in that case she must have agreed not to say anything. But I don´t believe her

  • Kasper

    @TheBlueCrow – I haven’t even seen the movie, so me being biased due to love for the film or whatever isn’t really the case, I just think that people are getting all worked up over nothing.

  • Fatbologna

    Remember back in the 80s and 90s when it was cool for guys like Stallone, Willis and Arnie to say they did all of their own stunts and then you’d see the movie and most of the big stunts were done by a dude in a wig that barely looked like the star?

    Never heard a peep out of the stunt doubles there. Their jobs are arguably more dangerous and require more finesse than a dancer yet you never heard them calling out the stars of all those films for being fakers.

    Because it’s their job to make you believe the fantasy. That’s what movies are, Ms. Lane! FUCKING FANTASY!! Stupid bitch just wants to be a name and now she is is one. Not for being gracious and talented but for being a whiny, jealous whiner.

  • Daemon

    I’m in the, “who cares” camp as well. I loved the movie Black Swan. I didn’t love the movie AND the marketing campaign. You can’t be lied to if your not watching/listening to that bullshit.

    This just in, turns out Portman didn’t actually have feathers coming out of her skin. It was done with FX. Take away the Oscar.

  • swarez

    @TheBlueCrow
    “So are the people who are saying ‘who cares’ (and accept Sarah Lane’s claim) essentially saying they don’t mind about being lied to?”

    Being lied to? It’s a fucking movie, it’s all a fucking “lie”.

  • Duke Togo

    Portman isn’t even her birth name, so it’s not really a surprise the performance isn’t all her either. There’s a Hong Kong movie where Jet Li protects a buffoon movie actor that is a parody of Jackie Chan, I believe it was called High Risk directed by Wong Jing. Li is the bodygaurd of the actor and secretly performs the famous actor’s stunts since he is no longer capable.

  • Mikey T

    As long as that was really Mila Kunis going down on Natalie Portman, I’m fine with everything else.

  • trusty dusty

    I would’ve cared had there been absolutely no money in it for anybody, had it been a project of pure love and devotion and had it been shown only on special occasions in museums of cinema… Hell, most of Mickey Rourke’s full body shots were done in the Wrestler with the double Armond Cerere. The famous shot where we see the ram jam for the first time had Mickey’s face glued onto Armond as well. Either Sara Lane was kind enough to wait until the theatrical run was over, or they just stopped giving her money. And in both cases it’s alright with me.

  • tjg92

    Roger Ebert said on his twitter “Remember, Portman did all of her own acting in Black Swan.”

    Or something like that. Anyway who really gives a damn?

  • http://humanwindchimeblog.blogspot.com/ gary

    Oh. And the shark in ‘Jaws’ didn’t do all of it’s own swimming…

  • tjg92
  • kara

    This would not be happening if the studio hadn’t endlessly hyped Portman’s dance study and the lie that she did almost all the dancing herself. What the heck. She should have been honest — she did the acting, Lane did the dancing.
    Ballet routines demand knows that it takes years to master them. In no way could Natalie Portman have become even marginally proficent in one year of study no matter how many hours a day she worked.Why can’t they just give the dancer credit and recognition? Instead they have to denigrate the entire profession of dance by claiming that any old actress can take a few lessons and be as talented as a professional athlete who has worked on her sport for over 20 years!

  • swarez

    Kara. Portman has years of ballet training behind her since she was a kid.

  • Nelson

    I saw this movie this weekend and it was “FABULOUS” ;)

    Makes me love Natalie Portman all the more. Seeing this movie and just loving it also makes me even more sad that Aronofsky isn’t going to be doing a Wolverine movie.

    I can imagine how all of the comic book fans that saw this movie and then heard that he was doing a Wolverine film must have felt when they heard he was backing out of the project for whatever reason :(

  • Ariel

    The awards were not for the dancing! Regardless of whether she did or did not do 100% of the dancing, she did 100% of the acting and that’s where it counts.
    Besides all this, there are awards and recognition for doubling work, so if Sarah Lane really did such an amazing job as she thinks, she’ll get her recognition.

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