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Black Swan’s Double Cross Controversy?

March 28, 2011

Thank Xena for Cinema Blend’s well informed recap of Black Swan‘s body double trouble. Ballet dancer Sarah Lane is locked in a heated battle with the film’s producers over what she believes is inadequate credit for her work in the film. Are all the copier machines in hollywood broken or something? That is the only logical explanation as to why the producers didn’t have a non-disclosure agreement in place.

Sarah Lane would have every right to be pissed off if Portman and company were claiming no body double was used, but the reality has been the exact opposite. I can’t tell you how many interviews I’ve read in which the new Academy Award winner has admitted she couldn’t master the most difficult moves and needed Sarah Lane to make those work. The whole point of training rigorously at a craft in preparation for a film is to make the audience believe you are who you’re playing.


In an EW story Lane alleges Portman did only 5% of the dancing shown on screen.

The shots that are just her face with arms, those shots are definitely Natalie,” she says. “But that doesn’t show the actual dancing.” Lane admits that she was never promised a particular title for her six weeks of work on the film, though she was disappointed to see that she is credited only as as “Hand Model,” “Stunt Double,” and “Lady in the Lane” (a brief walk-on role).


Lane continues, making swipes at Portman, despite claiming she harbors no ill will towards to the star or resents her recent success/Oscar win. This, of course, strikes me as complete nonsense. While it’s certainly true ballet enhanced the story being told, it’s a bit of a stretch to imply it was the story. Having seen the film, I can’t say that it’s especially memorable solely for the dancing, any more than Flashdance -which also heavily featured dance doubles and lead to some of the same accusations leveled against its star Jennifer Beals – is memorable solely for the dancing. While the dancing is an vital element to the storytelling, it’s not as though Lane was also subbing for Portman during all those endless scenes showcasing Nat’s preternatural ability to overact.

That is of course why she earned an Oscar for her work, in addition to running an impressive Oscar campaign and all the hard prep work involved with pretending to be bonky ballerina (but not necessarily the dance prep). There was not one second where I believed Portman was doing all of her own dancing. More to the point: I didn’t care. Considering what is in dispute is credit rather than compensation, I assume that Lane has little quibble for what she was paid for her six weeks of work. Again, this is not to distract from Lane’s abilities, but to illustrate that in this case what’s clear is neither party in question did a bang up job getting anything in writing. Bet they will next time, that’s assuming Lane asked to work as a body double any time soon!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2011 7:34 am

    There was dancing in that movie?

  2. March 28, 2011 10:09 am

    I think so. About as much as in Dirty Dancing, but more than in Staying Alive.

  3. March 28, 2011 10:47 am

    Seriously though, one of the things I liked about Black Swan is that it was showing everything else BESIDES the dancing, or the tight shots of feet and legs, the repetition of practice and movement. But full dancing itself? I remember more wrestling in The Wrestler.

    Maybe that’s the reason the dancer’s blabbing – she ended up more on the cutting room floor than she hoped!

  4. March 28, 2011 11:22 am

    That’s a great point. If this was the dancer’s first real movie, the shock of discovering they don’t use EVERY take or scene (which is why we don’t have 140 hour movies) but a heavily edited combination of the best takes must have been what prompted all this hateration.

  5. March 28, 2011 2:44 pm

    I feel bad for Sarah Lane that she thinks anyone cares. Maybe she’s been watching a lot of Singing in the Rain?

  6. March 29, 2011 8:25 am

    Maybe she was getting teased by the other ballerine for being a lowly “stunt double.”

  7. March 29, 2011 9:25 am

    so many LOLs!! thank you.

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