In the film Black Swan, the rivalry between Natalie Portman's Nina and Mila Kunis' Lily is extremely palpable by time it's blossomed into its final form. Some would say that it's to be expected, considering Portman and Kunis both devoted a lot of time and energy into their perfect performances for the film. However, performances weren't enough for director Darren Aronofsky, and to that extent he contributed to the work of his actors by stoking the fires himself.
Natalie Portman recently sat down with Vogue to discuss her directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness, and during that conversation the magazine spiced things up by reporting several facts that weren't as well-known as the usual factoids. One such fact came from her time on Black Swan, as Portman recalled Aronofsky's behavior on set with the following remark:
He'd say, 'Oh, Mila is doing really well on her stuff. She's so much better than you.' Darren would tell us things about each other to try to make us jealous. I think he was trying to create a rivalry in real life between us.
Now this doesn't come as a complete surprise to us, considering how some directors, like Aronofsky or Suicide Squad's David Ayer, will prompt their actors into action with special suggestions. Knowing how hardcore the director of such films as Requiem For A Dream, and more recently, Noah likes to go with his films, Darren Aronofsky seems like just the person to pit actors against each other in the name of the project. But to be explicitly told that he took the pair of friends and specifically push them apart, even to the extent of not letting them hang out together during production, definitely has us interested in watching Black Swan again with that knowledge in mind.
What makes this news even more interesting is the fact that it comes not too long after Natalie Portman admitted that screen legend Lauren Bacall was apparently not a huge fan of hers' after working on a short film together. Though that opinion came from Portman's uncertainty as the director of said short, and wasn't any sort of malicious grudge. And neither was the on-set feud between her and Mila Kunis, as the two are still good friends after their Black Swan experience.
Thankfully, Darren Aronofsky's conscious choice to feed Portman and Kunis' argument didn't turn what was the ultimate duo of method performances in Black Swan into a real, live feud between professionals. Lessons that were learned during that experience, as well as her time directing Lauren Bacall, will undoubtedly have colored her directorial skill set, which makes us all the more excited to see A Tale of Love and Darkness. The film is now open in New York and Los Angeles, with no current plans for expansion announced.