"Black Swan" director Darren Aronofsky, far right, who has already created such extraordinary films as "The Wrestler" and "Requiem for a Dream," has miraculously pulled off a psychological thriller set in the unlikely, rarefied world of classical dance. Several scenes in "Black Swan" present gore and special effects which beg the audience to cover their eyes. But the heart-thumping pace, psychological intensity, and extraordinary dance footage destine the film to be a Hitchcock-level classic with possible sweep potential at the Academy Awards.
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."