Black Swan Body Double Controversy continues

How much dancing did Natalie Portman do in her Oscar-winning role in ‘Black Swan’? That’s the subject of a controversy that is cropping up again, a near month after the Oscars, between the filmmakers and the professional ballerina Sarah Lane (above). ABC News– 20/20 is slated to do a feature story tonight.

In her first television interview, Sarah Lane, the professional ballerina who was actress Natalie Portman’s dance double in “Black Swan,” accused filmmakers of lying about how much Lane danced in the film, and trying to cover it up.

Portman’s face was superimposed onto Lane’s body through special effects called “face replacement” in pivotal dance scenes to make it appear as if it were Portman executing technically sophisticated moves.

“Full body shots with actual dancing is me. That’s why they hired me,” Lane said.

In a written statement, “Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky said, “Here is the reality. I had my editor count shots. There are 139 dance shots in the film — 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. Twenty-eight are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math, that’s 80 percent Natalie Portman.”

“It’s possible if you’re counting the close-ups of her face as actual dancing shots. I don’t call close-ups of her face actual dancing,” Lane said.

It should be *stressed* that Lane IS NOT dismissing any of the dancing Portman actually did, nor her acting talents. Lane doesn’t really have a problem with Aronofsky either. But Lane is upset that after doing a few interviews before the Oscars last month, she was informed to ‘stop’ because, even if there is some truth in it (as Lane was a body double in some shots-that is not in dispute. It is only a question of how much) it would (or could) hurt Portman’s chances.
Below is a preview of the 20/20 segment. Watch it, make up your own mind. It is very interesting.


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31 thoughts on “Black Swan Body Double Controversy continues

  1. The reporting of this keeps on refering to the fact that Natalie Portman supposedly learnt the dancing for the movie in a year and a half. Little notice has been made of the fact that she infact started dance lessons at the age of 4, and has apparently continued them for most of her life since then, albeit at one would suppose a lower level of intensity than that required in preperation for the film.

  2. regardless if she is talking about her acting performance or her dancing performance, she is still tarnishing her overall performance in the movie in they eyes of public. i’m basing that on what ive heard people say about this situation. i just saw your highness yesterday, i wonder if her stunt double is going to go on the news and say Natalie Portman didnt really slay a 5 headed dragon.

    1. or in the regards of “Your Highness” doesn’t actually shown her body in the skivvies swimming in the lake on chilling morning :P

  3. I agree that she comes off a little bitter, trying to jump on the last coat tails of the Black Swan train to jump her career a little more. While I don’t doubt that it is true, it’s simply a fact of modern film that things like these happen and as the director said, 80% was Portman anyway and there is no doubt that either way she deserved that Oscar.

  4. Isn’t her 15 minutes up? Whether Natalie did a majority of the dancing, the tricky dancing or any other kind of dancing is immaterial. She won the damn award for her amazing performance and would have likely won it had she done no dancing at all.

  5. I believe Darren had made a valid point. Somehow, everything got lost on cutting room floor, & got mixed up on a bad PR strategy. But Ms Lane should & could just shun it & move on instead of add fuel to the controversy that for me it just doesn’t exist in the first place. So my question is what’s the motive? why is so important to her on how much playing time she got for replacing Natalie?

  6. I understand the Body Double wanting proper credit but she is going a little overboard in my estimation.

    As others have stated her name will appear in the credits and she was paid to do the job.

  7. She is killing any future she had in this industry… You shut your mouth, you don’t go from media outlet to media outlet and basically trash talk Natalie freaking Portman and Darren Aronofsky. Honestly… stupid stupid girl…

    1. Lane is not “trash talking” Portman or her acting. As for Lane’s future as an actress? She isn’t one. Let’s make this clear. If you viewed the clip above (and read the link to ABC News), it is clear that a magazine reached out to her for an interview before Lane got upset. When the magazine went to press, she was contacted and told to stop doing further interviews because it could hurt Portman’s chances – which I’m not convinced it really would have regardless of how much dancing Portman actually did or did not do. In the past, actors have used body doubles, stand ins and stuntmen. It does not detract away from an actor’s performance. Portman still did an excellent job. Nobody disputes it.

      There is another matter- if Lane *signed* a contract agreement that said “please don’t give interviews about your work on being a body double until such and such a time” and she signed it? Then she gave the interview with the magazine then got the message to cease? I don’t know what they can do to her really – but that does not go well in Lane’s favor, I’ll give you that.

      1. She didn’t lose her career as an actress (no one said she did), but I highly doubt any other major studio will ever hire her to perform the dance sequences for an actress, and to be frank… they shouldn’t. Clearly she’s in it for the 15 minutes.

  8. I have to admit, the question really did pop in my mind several times during the movie.

    I think had it been revealed before, it would have hurt her chances a little bit. Because there are so many dance scenes in the movie,, and yes every idiot knows Nat won for her acting performance, but believing the fact that she did most of the performance gave the movie and her a

    * WOW she is amazing – effect!

    without that its just Nat crying in many scenes :) which is perhaps too easy for an actor like her to win an oscar.

  9. I think it was dishonest for the producers to make it seem Natalie did most of the dancing. I don’t think anyone who has common sense believes she did. However Sarah signed a contract that did not stipulate that she get credit in the film for her work. She signed the contract and was paid well for her work and that was that. Even though I see her point she needs to move on. next time she needs to broker a better deal before she signs anything.

    1. Actually she got the credit, @ the end credit all the dancer got their name included. Also did Darren & Natalie already mentioned that in the making of interviews that they’re using body double for her more complex dancing, also mentioned the dancer name? I remember vividly about those. So what more could she asked?

      1. The problem started when Lane was doing interviews shortly before the Academy Awards; she was asked to stop because the studio system wanted to maintain the idea that Portman did most of her dancing. The debate is over how much of the dancing did she really do.

        Think of it like a stuntman but an actor claiming they did all (or most of) thier own stunts.

        In any case, if you ask me I think both sides are correct. It is very possible that there could be reels of footage of both Portman and her body double Lane, and shots are edited and blended in as one, not counting the CG mapping.

    2. Honestly, I don’t believe the 15-minutes girl one little bit, though I think whether or not she’s a lying liar (as I think) or truthful is immaterial to Natalie’s performance.

    3. Honestly, I don’t believe the 15-minutes girl one little bit, though I think whether or not she’s a lying liar (as I think) or truthful (pretty doubtful) is immaterial to the quality and accolades of Natalie’s performance.

  10. I believe the body double’s concerns are legitimate; “I did X, and I should be credited properly.” Arguing that she should keep quiet b/c she’s hurting her chances for future film work misses the point.

    1. Last time I checked, The body doubles name appear at the end credits list and they appear dead last before the music credits.

      what else do you want.

  11. i got the feeling, she is just bitter, or wanting a ’15 minutes’ of fame treatment by stirring some controversy. Doesn’t she realized, this might hurt her any chance to work outside her dancing job, especially to work in movie industry, because she deems difficult to work with? also come to think of it, she is not even the principal characters, just the body double, she works & get paid accordingly, that is it. Imagine if the body double for Benjamin Button start complaining that Brad Pitt doesn’t look old enough. Maybe all the body double actors (hand actors included) will revolt, create a union & start an uprising… viva la revolution!

      1. “Rise of the Body Double”… i like that :D
        That a movie potential right there. You should bring this to the big wig of studios.

  12. I think she won the Oscar for acting NOT if she “performed the dances”.

    it’s kinda (IMO) like saying Daniel Day Lewis should give his trophy back cause he “Faked” his illness in “My Left Foot”

    just sayin’
    Sour Grapes anyone?

    1. She never said that Portman didn’t deserve the award. She believes Portman Does deserve the award. Does not deserve credit for the dance scenes not involving her close-ups. I believe this woman deserves some recognition for her dance scenes. Can’t argue with that.

      1. I think director Darren Aronofsky needs to come clean and set the record straight about this once and for all and give Sarah Lane the credit she rightfully deserves.

      2. The “generous compensation” (aka PAYDAY) and a credit in the .. gasp.. credits?

        I don’t know what you think he should “come clean” with.

        She was hired to do a job, she got paid, and she was given credit in the film for her contributions. He did his due diligence for an employee.

        Natalie Portman got the Oscar for ACTING, not dancing. This takes nothing away from Portman’s performance.

      3. Sarah Lane wants her contribution to the film be recognized in the right way, that all the virtuoso/difficult ballet moves was hers and not Portman’s. I think that’s what she wants. And on the other hand, she tries to paint Aronofsky as a cheat, using “face replacement” CGI technology to put Portman’s face on Lane’s body. well, if Lane is trying to sue the director and the studio for money over this, well that’s a whole new ballgame .

      4. Lane repeatedly says in the video that she is not doing this for the credit or the fame.

        Her only concern is the misconception that Portman learned skills equal to a professional ballet dancer in a year and a half. An omission of these facts was conveniently left out leading up to the film to build buzz for the movie.

        The special features on the DVD as well as many interviews all state that Portman had to work for that year and a half just so she could “appear” as a professional dancer and that the “real” dancing was a stunt double.

        Nothing was ever denied Lane. And Lane is not the person making this a big deal – the media seeking her out for interviews she isn’t asking for have brought her forward. Not Lane.

        Lane got credit. She is only doing these interviews to remind people that you cannot learn ballet that well in a year and a half.

      5. This lady’s ego just got her black listed from ever working as a body double in Hollywood again. No studio is going to hire someone as a body double who’ll run to the press first time they get to complain about how much credit be given them for their work on the film. It’s like a stunt person going to the media and saying,” A lot of those shots of the actor falling or fighting is of me, 50 percent of his performance should be accredited to me.” She knew what she signed up for, and she probably signed a bunch of waivers about what she could or couldn’t say inregards her role in the film too. She got paid and listed for her work as a double, nothing else is due her. She may say it’s not about the recognition, but her going on 20/20 says that it is.

      6. She has already admitted that she has no aspirations of becoming an actor, or working in film. They approached HER and paid her well. She already has a career as a world class ballerina.

        I don’t think she cares that she was black listed, and aside from the media suggesting Portman matched her ability after a year and a half of training, Lane doesn’t at all seem upset about what happened here.

        It looks more like the media approaching her and the steering questions are creating a story that Lane appears to have no care for.

      7. I think Sarah is just jealous! No offense, but when you take on the job as “body double” for a movie star – you are giving your body credit to the star. You signed up for it. You got paid for it. Now shut up! I also dance ballet and have 18 years of training. This would have been a complete HONOR for me. I wouldn’t be on 20/20 complaining about Natalie not deserving the credit. Did Sarah even SEE THE MOVIE??!! As a ballet dancer, I didn’t notice the ballet dancing that much. I noticed what an amazing transformation Natalie’s character made! She was unbelievable! I originally went to see the movie because I thought it was all about ballet…truly it was about inner conflict. Shame on you, Sarah. Get off your high horse and don’t sign up for things if you can’t handle it! There are plenty of other dancers who would have loved the opportunity.

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