The claustrophobic and competitive world of professional ballet is the setting for the latest filmic offering of acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler). Black Swan is a psychological thriller cum horror flick starring Natalie Portman as Nina, an uptight ballet dancer whose drive for perfection is her downfall and Mila Kunis as Lily, her promiscuous rival. Both Portman and Kunis give electrifying performances but not without getting a few cuts and bruises along the way.
To get into role as Nina, Portman trained for a gruelling five hours a day for ten months before shooting even began. Besides the inevitable swollen feet and bleeding toes that pointe ballet shoes give you, Portman also suffered a painful rib injury while Kunis tore two ligaments and dislocated her shoulder. When she is asked what the biggest challenge was in making Black Swan, Kunis replies without hesitation: “the physicality”. It wasn’t something she had expected from the role. “I had this idea in the beginning of grandeur, of feeling graceful and wearing a tutu, but you have no idea how physically demanding it is until you do it,” she says, adding, “it really takes a toll on your body!”
Portman and Kunis aren’t the only movie stars to have suffered for their art. As if being a heartthrob to the world’s ten year olds wasn’t embarrassing enough, Robert Pattison managed to pull several ligaments in his arse on his first ever day of shooting Twilight. Somebody once said you should never work with animals or children. Ben Stiller obviously wasn’t listening. He had to get a rabies injection after getting bitten by a ferret on the set of Along Came Polly. But if there was a top prize for Hollywood war wounds it would go to the stars of Jackass who have basically made a career out of self harm. During filming of the 3D movie version of the cult TV show, Jonny Knoxville got hit by a car and punched in the face by a former boxer while co-star Bam Magera broke his foot, clavicle and three ribs. Knoxville told MTV, "Injuries just come along with it. It's just part of it." What a stoic.
Black Swan is currently showing at the BFI London Film Festival. It will go on mainstream release in February 2011.