Interview - Natalie Portman on Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan
Actress on the challenging role, extreme pain and dancing injuries
A lot of people are saying your work in Black Swan is your best performance to date. How do you feel?
I’m very unobjective! It was definitely the most challenging and the most rewarding. It’s sad that the cliché is true – the more you put in, the more you get out of it.
Did you want to be a dancer when you were young?
I definitely had that aspiration when I was younger, which was quickly replaced with wanting to be an actress when I was 12. That’s what I stopped dancing. It was interesting. I definitely romanticised it until doing the film. Then when I saw how much hard work and discipline and pain is involved in becoming as virtuoso, as these women are, it gave me a whole new respect for it.
Can you describe what sort of pain you went through for the role?
You’re always in some sort of pain. Something is always hurting. The worst injury I got was…I dislocated a rib in the middle of filming. For the last three weeks of the film, they had to change all of the lifts so that they were carrying me under my arms – if I was touched there it literally felt like I was being stabbed. It was really, really extreme. But it’s nothing to complain about. All of the dancers are always dancing with an extreme injury. It’s just incredible, the amount they can hide. Part of the art is hiding all the pain.
Was it a tough role to let go of?
Absolutely. I think I’m only starting to shake it off right now. I don’t know how it affected me yet. It’s one of those things where I know it has affected me but it’s going to take some time to digest in what way. It was really, really challenging but it was amazing to have Darren [Aronofsky, director] in the war with me. We’re very similar in our extremism. We’re both very, very disciplined and very focused, and extreme. I think we both throw ourselves into things in a similar way.
Black Swan is out on DVD on Monday 16 May.