Did Natalie Portman do most of her dancing in ‘Black Swan’? Her body double doesn’t think so

Sarah Lane, the body double for Natalie Portman, recently spoke out about the situation in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.  She seems a little peeved.  Check it out:

“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? “

Black Swan

Fox, Aronofsky, and pretty much everyone else has claimed that Natalie did 85% of all of her dancing in the film.  But Lane has a different, and much smaller figure in mind:

“Of the full body shots, I would say 5 percent are Natalie…All the other shots are me.”

Now keep in mind, the 85% figure came from the choreographer Benjamin Millepied, who is Portman’s future husband.  So yeah…that might have affected that number.  But still, 85% to 5% is a huge drop.  If Lane is correct, that means Portman pretty much only danced the close up shots and nothing more.  But who’s to say Lane is right?  Maybe she’s just trying to take the credit herself.  And even if its true, I don’t think this was the right thing to do.  A body double’s job is to pretend to be the actress herself, not soak up all the glory just because people really liked it. I think David Chen over at Slashfilm.com put it best when he said, “Isn’t being a body double sort of like being a ghost writer (i.e. a profession in which it’s in poor taste to publicly claim credit for your work)?”


While I know credit should be given where credit is due, credit is simply not due here.  Still, Portman not doing the dancing in the film in no way should detract from her performance.  She was still fantastic in almost every scene she’s in, and needing a body double to do something that would take someone a decade to master isn’t a weakness on her part.  And while I understand that it seems in bad taste to say Portman did most of the dancing when she really didn’t, keep this in mind; it’s Hollywood.  That’s sadly how things work.