RSVIP: "Black Swan" Premiere with Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis
To transform the star, Natalie Portman, right, who had trained in Ballet as a child, into a dancer, Mary Helen Bowers, a prima ballerina formerly with the New York City Ballet, began training her a year before shooting started. "I put together a rigorous program, this is five to eight hours a day, six days a week," said a reed-thin Bowers, wearing a feathery gown by Balenciaga on the red carpet at the Ziegfeld Theatre at Tuesday's premiere. "We mixed ballet exercises, swimming a mile every day, ballet class, and pointe work . . . working on her swan arms, her hands . . . her upper body."
"It was a challenge getting her on pointe for the first time," Bowers offered. "So we just built up to it very slowly. You see her on pointe constantly in the film."
"I lost 20 pounds," noted Mila Kunis, below, who played opposite Portman in the embattled dance company onscreen. "I had a 1200-calorie diet, with five small portion-controlled meals a day, five teeny bird portions."
As for Portman's commitment, she mentioned that she accidentally "dislocated a rib." It necessitated an MRI, noted Aronofsky inside the Ziegfeld. Trend alert: for "The Wrestler," Mickey Rourke required three.
"And getting the effects off that they put on my back was really hard," Portman, wearing Dior, mentioned to Luxist. "Everyone else would wrap and get to go home. We had done a 16-hour day, and I'd be on point shoes. And then I'd have another hour getting my latex fake broken-out back off."
Barbara Hershey, who plays one of the most terrifying moms since Piper Laurie in "Carrie," wore a gown by Naeem Khan with sparkling trim and snake-like earrings from Bulgari to the event. Hershey, too, suffered for her art during a dramatic door fight with Portman in "Black Swan." "I slammed my hand," she said. "The take Darren used is my hand, actually getting hit--not on purpose, but it happened."
"It wasn't Natalie's fault," explained Hershey. "But I couldn't bend my fingers for a few months."
Award-winning fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte designed magnificent ballet costumes, as well as Portman's white ball gown for the gala scene. "We once did a whole collection inspired by Japanese horror films and ballet," said Kate.
But costumes for dance presented new demands. "We would say, 'Is this going to work?'" recalled Laura. "'Can this function onstage and last through multiple takes?' The men's costumes particularly, because they have to be able to lift the female dancers."
"Metal crowns also presented a challenge," said Kate. "We envisioned these characters, the demon character and the Black Swan, as mechanical creatures. And we wanted to use metal. We actually burned copper to create something light enough for a dancer to wear."
"When I saw the finished film, I walked away shocked," said Laura. "It's the best thing I've seen in 15 years. We were so lucky to work with Darren."
"She became the character," added Kate, who worked with Portman through continuous fittings. "Her body transformed into a dancer's body. She became an athlete."
"Her body changed to a point where it got a little scary," Aronofsky mused. "And I had to tell her to start eating."
"The fact that she's believable as a dancer," added Portman's co-star, French actor Vincent Cassel, "that's terribly difficult to achieve."
Another tall order was to create was an afterparty for a masterwork. Dior Beauty, which recently chose Portman as a new face, sponsored the fete, picking the second floor of the St. Regis Hotel replete with chandeliers, gilded trim, wood-paneling, and ornate marble fireplaces.
More drama. "We had 400 people coming tonight," Dianne Vavra of Dior Beauty told RSVIP over crisp tempura shrimp. "And we needed a location in walking distance . . . because we held the premiere the same night as the [traffic-halting] tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center."