Natalie Portman's 'Black Swan' Dance Double Claims Filmmakers Are 'Lying'
Sarah Lane says "Black Swan" producers exaggerated Portman's dancing.
April 15, 2011 — -- In her first television interview, Sarah Lane, the professional ballerina who was actress Natalie Portman's dance double in "Black Swan," accused filmmakers of lying about how much Lane danced in the film, and trying to cover it up.
"I'm not speaking because I feel I should be heralded," Lane told "20/20's" Elizabeth Vargas in an exclusive interview. "I'm just speaking because they're completely lying about the amount of dancing that Natalie did in the movie."
In "Black Swan," Portman played a talented and tormented ballerina, whose searing descent into madness is mirrored by her incredible dancing on stage. But a recent controversy sprang up after Lane claimed to not only have danced in some of the movie's most unforgettable scenes that earned Portman a best actress Oscar, and that filmmakers asked her to refrain from talking about her role.
Watch the exclusive interview on "20/20" TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET
After she was interviewed by Glamour magazine for an article titled "The Real Black Swan," Lane, a soloist for the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, said one of the film's producers called and told her to keep quiet about the extent of her performance.
"He asked if I would please not do any more interviews until after the Oscars because it was bad for Natalie's image," Lane said. "They were trying to create this image, this facade, really, that Natalie had done something extraordinary. Something that is pretty much impossible ... to become a professional ballerina in a year and half. Even with as hard as she worked, it takes so much more. It takes twenty-two years, it takes thirty years to become a ballerina."
Jess Cagle, the managing editor for Entertainment Weekly, agreed, saying, "they diminished what Sarah did by telling Sarah to shut up and not talk and don't let anyone know."
Portman's face was superimposed onto Lane's body through special effects called "face replacement" in pivotal dance scenes to make it appear as if it were Portman executing technically sophisticated moves.
"Full body shots with actual dancing is me. That's why they hired me," Lane said.
In a written statement, "Black Swan" director Darren Aronofsky said, "Here is the reality. I had my editor count shots. There are 139 dance shots in the film -- 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. Twenty-eight are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math, that's 80 percent Natalie Portman."
"It's possible if you're counting the close-ups of her face as actual dancing shots. I don't call close-ups of her face actual dancing," Lane said.
"Black Swan" editor Andy Weisblum agreed to take a closer look for "20/20." "There are about 35 shots that are full body shots in the movie. Of those 35 shots, 12 are Natalie, and then the rest are Sarah," Weisblum said. "But over the overall film, Natalie did a lot more than that. I mean, she did most of the other shots. It was sometimes hard for me to tell the difference as the editor, it was so close."