Natalie Portman | News

Black Swan Stunt Double Claims She Danced In Majority Of Film

27-year-old American Ballet Theatre dancer Sarah Lane, who was Natalie Portman's dancing double in Black Swan, is disputing claims made by the film's choreographer and its producers that Portman performed most of the dancing in the movie herself.

Bs Lane tells Entertainment Weekly that she handled 95% of the dancing and that Portman's face was digitized onto her body in post-production.

“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?”

Lane, who received a "stunt Double" credit, also claims that one of Black Swan's producers asked her to refrain from speaking about her work on the film.

it also sounds like the movie's studio, Fox Searchlight, involved itself in a pre-Oscar Internet extraction of any "making of" documentaries that included explanations of any Portman/Lane head and face replacement special effects.

Watch one of those edited featurettes here.

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  1. Hey, Sarah, look, I know you feel wronged about this and all that, but honestly, no one cares. The movie, and Natalie's performance, was about way more than just the dancing. Sorry.

    Posted by: valentine ghost | Mar 26, 2011 11:40:20 AM


  2. Marine Jahan all over again.

    Posted by: blister | Mar 26, 2011 11:51:47 AM


  3. Valentine . . .if as you say that "the movie, and Natalie's performance, was about way more than just the dancing," then why would the producers of Black Swan make such ludicrous statements that Natalie performed the majority of the dancing in the film?

    They obviously felt that a bald-faced lie about Portman's abilities was all about dancing.

    Sarah is right . . .one does not become a premier ballerina in a year and a half . . . the very notion is an insult to dancers who have worked, like Miss Lane 22 years to perfect her craft. Even a child prodigy would not have the skill and expertise of a ballerina who has been dancing for 22 years . . . whereas someone like Abigail Breslyn can turn in Oscar nominated performances at the age of ten.

    It is an insult to suggest that an actress can dance at the level depicted in the film in a year and a half. Probably most people would have accepted the film on its own merits, so it is the producer, not Miss Lane, and their ridiculous lies that have now made it all about the dancing.

    Posted by: Ricco | Mar 26, 2011 12:02:33 PM


  4. whether true or not

    sounds extremely plausible

    who can become a professional ballerina in a year and a half?

    Keep raising a stink Sarah and hold out for tons of $$ the producers will eventually hand over to you to shut you up

    Posted by: mstrozfckslv@yahoo.com | Mar 26, 2011 12:04:40 PM


  5. What about all the commentary from 'serious' ballet enthusiasts about how mediocre Portman's dancing was then? I heard nothing but leading up to the Oscars. Either my friends are talking out of their asses or this woman is a mediocre dancer, in which case her claims are hilarious.

    Posted by: Zach | Mar 26, 2011 12:05:02 PM


  6. And the oscar truth goes to...

    Posted by: Roseann | Mar 26, 2011 12:09:12 PM


  7. The lovely thing about stealing media on the net is that you can feed your addiction to garbage while doing harm to the disgusting industry that produces it.

    Posted by: Bryan | Mar 26, 2011 12:16:48 PM


  8. @zach: or they're just talking out of their asses with the belief that it WAS Natalie doing the dancing. If it turns out this stroy is true I bet their opinions would change pretty quick.

    Posted by: bravo | Mar 26, 2011 12:18:24 PM


  9. Did anyone actually believe that Portman became a passable ballet dancer in only 18 months?!? Every frame of every film ever made is an illusion and the marketing of every finished film plays to those illusions. How could anyone in the 21st Century not know how Hollywood works?

    Posted by: ohplease | Mar 26, 2011 12:36:21 PM


  10. ohplease

    and you and the producers are naive if you and they think they don't have to pay sarah a ton more $$$ to shut her up

    that is how the real world works as well

    kaching, sarah is going to make bank soon

    Posted by: mstrozfckslv@yahoo.com | Mar 26, 2011 12:52:39 PM


  11. @zach : WHOA!!!! Sarah Lane is not a mediocre dancer by any stretch of the imagination. I danced with her when she was younger and she is a magnificent ballerina. so your friends are talking out their asses.I think she just wants credit given where credit is due. Natalie gave a brilliant acting performance and Sarah danced beautifully for her.

    Posted by: matt | Mar 26, 2011 1:08:43 PM


  12. weird how it mimics the plot of the movie---who is the real swan?

    Posted by: Jose-Luis Olivares | Mar 26, 2011 1:37:08 PM


  13. First of all, most of the dancing in the film was of Portman from the torso up and it was obviously her because it wasn't good enough to be a true ballerina. The dancing where you see her whole body onstage was Lane and the one scene in Nina's bedroom by the mirror has Lane's head superimposed.

    But the Oscar was won for Portman's acting, which was nothing short of magnificent. Sarah Lane is a good dancer. She is no Gelsey Kirkland or Natalia Osipova, neither of whom would have ever agreed to be a "double" for anyone.

    Posted by: Jonathan | Mar 26, 2011 1:48:51 PM


  14. In no way shape or form did I think Portman did her own dancing in the key scenes of the film. I thought it would be a given that it was a double. If the producers are trying to claim otherwise, than the dancer has a legitimate gripe. In the old days of Hollywood musicals of the 50's and 60's everybody knew who Marni Nixon was and it wasn't covered up. She was the singing voice of many Hollywood stars when they did musicals.

    Posted by: romeo | Mar 26, 2011 1:48:57 PM


  15. Sorry, I meant the bedroom scene has Portman's head superimposed on Lane's body. And truthfully she is just good, not great.

    Posted by: Jonathan | Mar 26, 2011 1:50:34 PM


  16. As I understand it, there is something of an unwritten code (or maybe it's contractual) among stunt doubles in Hollywood where they don't talk about where the stars' work ends and theirs begins as a matter of professionalism. Stunt doubles are hired to make the stars look like they do things that they can't whether it's falling off a building or doing pirouettes. Natalie Portman has made no pretenses about the fact that she had a dance double despite her having studied ballet for years when she was younger. I have heard her discussing in great detail the fact that even after all her training, her body type is not particularly suited to ballet, and she was quite open about having a double for a good portion of the dance shots.
    Doubles don't get accolades, but then they probably shouldn't expect them either.

    Posted by: Abie | Mar 26, 2011 1:57:29 PM


  17. Poor Lane, if only the producers had given her a contract to sign, and if she knew it was Portman who was the star of the film, that the Oscars stopped giving separate awards to dancing back in the 30's.

    As for the producers giving her more money, I recall when Randy 'The Hollywood Hit Squad is after me' Quaid sued the producers of Brokeback for not making enough money he dropped the suit. They may have settled out of court, both sides are not talking. One thing for sure is he made over 100 films in 35 years, and only 7 after the suit was filed.

    Trashing producers or directors doesn't seem to be a wise career move, perhaps Lane can talk to Quaid, or Megan Fox, her star hasn't been hurt since she opened her mouth about her bosses.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Mar 26, 2011 2:08:20 PM


  18. Whether true or not, Portman did all of the acting and she was stellar. Besides, it's a film. There were multiple takes and multiple angles, and the best shots/takes were chosen to be included the final cut of the film. It is not as if there were any long takes that showcased her dancing. And it is certainly not like anyone is saying that Portman could actually get on stage and perform Swan Lake live at The Met.

    Posted by: FQ | Mar 26, 2011 2:16:47 PM


  19. Patrick NYC, you sound like an idiot. Lane is ballerina not an actress. WTF would she care if she appears in another film? It's not her chosen career. She'll be just fine.

    Posted by: sugarrhill | Mar 26, 2011 2:28:59 PM


  20. some of you need to re-read the article

    the choreographer and producers are making such claims that natalie did most of the dancing. It doesn't matter what natalie says

    end of subject there and any good lawyer can get sarah tons of $

    Patrick, name another hollywood movie coming out about ballet that needs a ballerina stunt double. sarah needs to cash in now because there won't be many opurtunities in the future to stunt double for a ballet movie. Your siting quaid is not a good example at all

    Posted by: mstrozfckslv@yahoo.com | Mar 26, 2011 2:32:11 PM


  21. Natalie Portman is a pretty face not a world class dancer. Beautiful people can lie in America. It's so easy to do. If it is true Natalie and the rest of the crew on Black Swan should be sick. I'm with Sarah. 22 yrs of Ballet vs. V For Vendetta and a pretty face. Psh, Geminis.

    Posted by: Matt | Mar 26, 2011 2:56:25 PM


  22. "@zach : WHOA!!!! Sarah Lane is not a mediocre dancer by any stretch of the imagination. I danced with her when she was younger and she is a magnificent ballerina. so your friends are talking out their asses.I think she just wants credit given where credit is due. Natalie gave a brilliant acting performance and Sarah danced beautifully for her."

    I never stated Lane was a mediocre dancer; I don't see enough ballet to properly judge. My point was that the majority of prior commentary from 'learned experts' regarding Portman's character's dancing in the movie was that it was mediocre, i.e. the work of someone who only some months of experience.

    So if it was Lane doing the majority of the dancing, either the experts will have to concede they don't know what they're talking about and make uninformed judgments based on preconceptions, or they'll be forced to say Lane was a mediocre dancer.

    @mstrozfckslv@yahoo.com

    What cause of action would a lawyer bring against the producers, exactly?

    Posted by: Zach | Mar 26, 2011 3:20:24 PM


  23. If you know anything at all about film it's screamingly obvious that Natalie Portman didn't do any dancing. The camera is on top of her in relentless close-up nearly the entire time. The film may be about a dancer but you never really see her -- or anyone else -- do any real dancing.

    By contrast Neve Campbell in Altman's highly underrated "The Company" is a real dancer and can be seen really dancing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n37R4o1WTM

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Mar 26, 2011 3:43:29 PM


  24. "In the old days of Hollywood musicals of the 50's and 60's everybody knew who Marni Nixon was and it wasn't covered up. She was the singing voice of many Hollywood stars when they did musicals."

    Not quite. Deborah Kerr claimed that she did MOST of her singing in "The King and I," and that Marni Nixon was dubbed for the high notes, when the reality is that Marni Nixon had in fact, dubbed for Kerr for the whole film.

    Posted by: Rick S. | Mar 26, 2011 3:58:37 PM


  25. I may be biased because I'm among the few who wasn't blown away by Black Swan, but it was very obvious that Portman wasn't doing much of the dancing. I was also very irritated by an interview she gave where she painted every ballerina as a psychotic, self-abusive nutcase and made claims about her training (14-18 hours a day) that simply aren't possible.

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 26, 2011 4:42:13 PM


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