Black Swan Trivia(Total Trivia Entries: 46)
“The only person standing in your way is you.”
It took nearly 10 years for the script to finally make it to the screen. To find out more trivia keep on reading.
Casting Screenplay & Production
It was rumored that both Rachel Weisz and Jennifer Connelly were considered for the lead roles when the film was first conceived.
Director, Darren Aronofsky, first discussed with Natalie Portman the possibility of a ballet film in 2000, though the script was yet to be written. He told her about the love scene between competing ballet dancers, and Portman recalled, “I thought that was very interesting because this movie is in so many ways an exploration of an artist’s ego and that narcissistic sort of attraction to yourself and also repulsion with yourself.”
On the decade’s wait before production, Portman stated; “The fact that I had spent so much time with the idea, allowed it to marinate a little before we shot.”
In order to look more like a ballerina Natalie Portman lost 20 pounds.
In order to attain a body type and muscular tone more similar to those of professional dancers, Natalie Portman began her ballet training a year before principal production began. She trained with Mary Hahn Bowers (formerly of the New York City Ballet) and the regimen included fifteen minutes of toe exercises so that she could be on point for the dance scenes, substantial muscle toning, and swimming a mile a day. A few months closer to filming, she began choreography training.
It’s been reported that Natalie Portman sustained a twisted rib during the filming of a dance sequence and it took six weeks for it to fully recover. For filming of subsequent dance sequences she was lifted from her arm pits rather than her sides to avoid repeating the injury.
Natalie Portman had to receive physical therapy during filming due to her twisted rib injury. According to the director Darren Aronofsky, Portman is actually undergoing a real physical therapy session in one scene with the actual physical therapist.
Another injury that Natalie Portman encountered during filming was a head injury sustaining a bad concussion that required an MRI.
Natalie Portman does most of her own dancing in the movie but professional ballerina Sarah Lane doubles her in some shots involving complex en pointe moves.
The female characters are directed in the Swan Lake production by Thomas Leroy, played by Vincent Cassel. He compared his character to George Balanchine, who co-founded New York City Ballet. According to Cassel, Balanchine was “a control freak, a true artist using sexuality to direct his dancers”.
Blake Lively auditioned for the role of Lily.
According to an radio interview on “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” Natalie Portman recommended her friend Mila Kunis for the role of Lily after learning that Kunis had previously had some experience as a dancer.
It’s been reported that Darren Aronofsky offered Mila Kunis the role of Lily over Skype, without an audition.
Mila Kunis had casually practiced ballet as a child but in order to learn how to dance en pointe she practiced with a ballet instructor for six months, five hours a day, seven days a week.
Kunis was put on a very strict diet of 1,200 calories a day. She lost 20 pounds from her normal weight of about 117 pounds.
Kunis engaged in cardio and Pilates. Kunis stated; “I did ballet as a kid like every other kid does ballet. You wear a tutu and you stand on stage and you look cute and twirl. But this is very different because you can’t fake it. You can’t just stay in there and like pretend you know what you’re doing. Your whole body has to be structured differently.”
Kunis’s comment on the contrast of her character Lily with Natalie Portman’s character, Nina; “My character is very loose. She’s not as technically good as Natalie’s character, but she has more passion, naturally. That’s what Nina lacks.”
It’s been revealed by Natalie Portman that director Darren Aronofsky would subtly try to pit her and Mila Kunis against each other during filming so as to increase the on-screen tension between their characters.
Apparently Meryl Streep was considered to play Nina’s mother, Erica Sayers.
Winona Ryder who plays the former leading ballerina, Beth Macintyre, only went to one ballet lesson as a child. Apparently she never returned as she thought her teacher was mean.
Winona Ryder only spent 10 days filming her role.
Actor, Mark Margolis appeared in an ‘under-five’ role as a favor to Darren Aronofsky, but his dialogue was cut from the film.
Benjamin Millepied, a principal dancer from New York City Ballet, debuted in Black Swan as both actor and choreographer. In addition to the soloist performances, members of the Pennsylvania Ballet were cast as the corps de ballet, backdrop for the main actors’ performances.
Screenplay & Production Casting
Apparently director, Darren Aronofsky first became interested in ballet when his sister studied dance at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City.
The basic idea for the film began when Aronofsky hired screenwriters to rework a screenplay called ‘The Understudy’, which was about off-Broadway actors and explored the notion of being haunted by a double. Aronofsky said the screenplay had elements of the film All About Eve, Roman Polanski’s film The Tenant, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella ‘The Double’.
Aronofsky had also seen numerous productions of Swan Lake, and he connected the duality of the White Swan and the Black Swan to the script.
Researching for production of Black Swan, Aronofskye has stated the he found ballet to be “a very insular world” whose dancers were “not impressed by movies”. However, he found active and inactive dancers to share their experiences with him and he also stood backstage to see the Bolshoi Ballet perform at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Nina’s name in the original screenplay was apparently Alexandria.
It took about 10 years for the script to finally make it to the screen.
When Aronofsky proposed a detailed outline of Black Swan to Universal Pictures, the studio decided to fast-track development of the project in January 2007. However, the project did not come together at the studio, and Aronofsky would go on to shoot The Wrestler instead.
After finishing The Wrestler in 2008, Aronofsky asked Mark Heyman, who had worked for him on the film, to write Black Swan.
The production considered setting the film in France and filming in Budapest but the idea was abandoned due to creative and budgetary reasons.
Universal had placed the project in turnaround in June 2009, generating attention from other studios and specialty divisions, particularly with actress Portman attached to star.
In June 2009 Black Swan began development under Protozoa Pictures and Overnight Productions, the latter financing the film and in July 2009, Kunis was cast.
Fox Searchlight Pictures became the distributor for Black Swan. The film was given a production budget of $12 million, and principal photography began in New York City toward the end of 2009.
Aronofsky shot Black Swan with a muted palette and a grainy style very similar to The Wrestler. Part of filming took place at the Performing Arts Center at State University of New York at Purchase.
Georgina Parkinson, a ballet mistress from the American Ballet Theater, coached the actors in ballet.
For certain scenes, American Ballet Theater soloists Sarah Lane and Maria Riccetto were “dance doubles” for Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis respectively.
Aronofsky said during filming about Portman’s ballet performance, “She was able to pull it off. Except for the wide shots when she has to be en pointe for a real long time, it’s Natalie on screen. I haven’t used her double a lot.”
Apparently the method that Natalie Portman’s character, Nina, uses to ‘break in’ her ballet shoes are very common, which is to rip the sole apart, restitch the ribbons, lighting the end ribbons, spraying the toe-box and using glass to grate the bottom of the shoes to gain traction.
The last name of the character of the ballet director, Thomas Leroy, is French for ‘the king’, which is significant due to Nina’s identification with her role as an enchanted princess in love with a prince.
The budget on this movie was so tight that when star Natalie Portman had a twisted rib injury during a lift a she was told that they no medic. Natalie called the producers for help and stated that if they needed to cut items from the budget they could take away her trailer, instead of the medic. Apparently the next day her trailer was gone.
The soundtrack, composed by Clint Mansell, is a variation on Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” ballet, but played backwards and in a distorted manner.
This movie marks the fifth consecutive collaboration between English composer Clint Mansell and Aronofsky.
Because of the use of Tchaikovsky’s music, the score was deemed ineligible to be entered into the 2010 Academy Awards for Best Original Score. The film also featured various new pieces of music by English production duo The Chemical Brothers, although they are not featured on the official soundtrack.
Below are some featurettes of the movie:
Featurettes showing Natalie Portman’s preperations for her character:
Still want more trivia? Then visit the official movie website.
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