As far as contemporary directors go, there are few as stylized and intense as Darren Aronofsky. The 49 year old filmmaker and writer often focuses on a mixture of the surreal and gritty psychological turmoil, and has seen same major success for his efforts. While mother! fell flat and was met with some umbrage over controversial scenes in the third act, Oscar bait movies like The Wrestler and Black Swan are modern classics.
The latter starred Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, and focused on professional dancers at the New York Ballet Company. The movie balances grounded scenes with full blown moments of horror, earning Natalie Portman an Oscar for Best Actress in the process. But Portman herself didn't even know the film's true tone, as she recently revealed in an interview:
When I saw the final cut I was completely surprised by what the movie was like. I thought we were shooting something like almost documentary style, and then I watched it and it was an over the top thriller. It was an amazing wake-up call that film is a director's medium and as an actor you have no idea what's going on and you're being led and shaped.
Despite spending months training for and filming Black Swan, it appears that Natalie Portman was still in the dark about aspects of the acclaimed thriller. Namely, that it was even a thriller at all. Because she was expecting a far less horrifying venture into the world of professional ballet.
Natalie Portman's comments to Vanity Fair are sure to surprise fans and cinephiles alike, especially as Black Swan ended up being such a major moment in the actress' long career. The prep and work involved was a major part of the movie's narrative leading up to the Oscars, as Portman reportedly trained for six months in order to play Nina, and transform her body into that of a dancer's.
Add on the exhausting nature of filming, and the intense ballet training she had to do, and you'd think Natalie Portman would know about as much as Darren Aronofsky about Black Swan. But she didn't, as Aronofsky had a specific dark vision in mind which she simply wasn't privy to. It all paid off in the end, as Black Swan is a fascinating mixture of psychological horror and very "real" scenes within the ballet company.
Hearing more about Darren Aronofsky's process, one has to wonder how it all went down with mother! Cinephiles assume Aronofsky would do it again with 2007's allegory, but it ended up being panned but critics and being a box office failure. That film had an even more specific vision than Black Swan, so how much did the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, and Michelle Pfeiffer know about the project?