London Film Festival BLACK SWAN Press Conference with Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel and Darren Aronofsky | The Fan Carpet Ltd • The Fan Carpet: The RED Carpet for FANS • The Fan Carpet: Fansites Network • The Fan Carpet: Slate • The Fan Carpet: Theatre Spotlight • The Fan Carpet: Arena • The Fan Carpet: International

London Film Festival BLACK SWAN Press Conference with Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel and Darren Aronofsky

Black Swan
23 October 2010

Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel joined director Darren Aronofsky at the London Film Festival for the press conference of BLACK SWAN.

Sadly the star of the film, Natalie Portman wasn’t in attendance at either the press conference or premiere. However Mila Kunis was on top form in a black chiffon gown with beaded detail at the waist by D&G.

Black Swan is much more than what it says in its limited synopsis of a thriller that zeros in on the relationship between a veteran ballet dancer and a rival.

The film doesn’t open here in the UK until February 11th so we feel very privileged to have has a very early peek at the masterpiece and Portman is already receiving Oscar buzz for her performance.


How did you immerse yourself in the world of Ballet and how different is it to the film business?

Darren Aronofsky: Usually when you make a movie, doors open, but the Ballet world just really couldn’t care. They’re insular and self involved and very focused, but slowly and surely a few dancers approached us that wanted to share their story, and we did a lot of research and eventually the choreographer Benjamin Millepied came on board, and that gave us a stamp of approval because he’s very well respected in the New York city Ballet and the Ballet world, and slowly but surely that helped us out.


There’s a connection between Black Swan and The Wrestler in terms of the body injuries and dedication in both the films, can you explain that?

Darren Aronofsky: When we were cutting The Wrestler, we really got into revitalizing the film, we had been developing it for eight years actively and it kind of died. One of my producers; Mark Hayman came to me and said he wanted to write something, so I said what about a Ballet project and he said there were a lot of similarities between this and The Wrestler and I wasn’t afraid of them. I thought it was an interesting thing because you are talking about the highest art and the lowest art; if you wanna call wrestling an “art”. I think they are both about performances and performers, where performers put their bodies before their health, and age and physicality is the big challenge for that.


What advice do you have for young film makers who are striving to be in your position today?

Darren Aronofsky: The only thing new film makers have to offer really is originality, just try to do something different, and persistence is a huge part of the game, so a combination of those two is essential.


How did the rehearsal periods of the film, learning to dance help you build your characters?

Mila Kunis: I think it was important for everybody to do a little bit of dancing, the way a ballerina holds herself is very very specific, and you can only fake that so much. I felt for me personally I had to have my collar bones showing, and bones protruding, and I had to lose weight, which made sense because ballerinas hold their arms back and their ribcage is tucked in, and all of that helped the character.

Vincent Cassel: As you can see, I didn’t do much dancing in the movie, but I could have (laughs) When I read the script, I originally thought my parts where I direct Natalie, I would be doing more dancing. But I watched Mikhail Baryshnikov directing a young dancer and he wasn’t moving at all, so when we got on the set we got into that vibe where the dancing wasn’t really required, and it was more about helping her, following her and I think that looked more like an ex dancer than spinning around would have done. I did train 17 years ago, as you can see (laughs).


What in terms of creativity, were your biggest struggles or challenges?

Darren Aronofsky: It was a really difficult film to make, after The Wrestler, everyone was like what are you doing making a film about wrestling with Mickey Rourke, and we had the success we had with it, so I thought it would get easier with this film because we had Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel and Mila Kunis, and Winona Ryder but it was still really really difficult and raising the money for this film was harder than raising the money for The Wrestler. Two weeks out the money fell apart, but then we were very lucky and quickly got Fox Searchlight to come in after we were on our hands and knees begging. Because we had so little money, every single day was difficult, there was never an easy day, everyday was like ‘Oh my gosh we have to do all that today’, and then there was no money for post production and we had to do over 300 special effects, so it was very very hard.


How many of the 300 special effects that were shot, were conceived long before the production as an idea that you would like to achieve but you didn’t know how it would be achieved, and how much did you decide to do when it came to post production and you discovered different things that you could do?

Darren Aronofsky: It was a mixture, the complicated ones like the goose pimply swan like skin, and the moving tattoo, they were very difficult to do, and they had to be pre-planned as there was no way they could be improvised on the budget we had. When we got to post production, we really started to play around with things, and because I shot wide screen, I started to think about where the audiences eyes would be and try and manipulate the other side of the screen in very gentle ways and actually add it to the tension and paranoia of the movie.



Can you talk about the look of the film as it was so grainy and your choice of different camera moves?

Darren Aronofsky: The film is shot in 16mm wide screen film, and very early on I knew I wanted to get the camera back stage with the dancers. Dancers make it all look so effortless, but I wanted to get back stage and show all the muscles moving and bloody feet and sweat and breath. However I was very nervous about using this kind of hand held style of filming that we used in The Wrestler, in a horror/psychological thriller, because I didn’t want to give the impression of Natalie being followed around by a camera because in the horror parts of the film we didn’t want it to seem like Natalie could turn around to the camera man for help, and we didn’t want the documentary style to suck out the action, but we just decided to go for it and see what happens.


What was it like working with Natalie as she seemed very consumed by this demanding role?

Vincent Cassel: It was easy working with her, she was very focused on the dancing but I was very impressed by the amount of work she put into her physical transformation to a dancer. With our scenes together, she really went for it, she’s not like a typical actress who doesn’t want to kiss or whatever, she really just goes for it. And she did it really well so it was easy.

Mila Kunis: She was absolutely fantastic to work with, I was very lucky that I got to work with a friend of mine. She’s a brilliant actress and amazing to watch, and she’s great off screen.

What was the hardest part of your role Mila, we read you had at least two torn ligaments and a dislocated shoulder, what was the hardest part of getting into the role of this remarkable character?

Mila Kunis: The physicality was the hardest, transforming your body at the age of 26. I wasn’t alone in this, everyone across the board in this production, if they played a dancer somehow, somewhere they got hurt.


Did you find that dancers and actors are different breeds, do they approach their work in a very different way to actors?

Mila Kunis: Yes and no, both are incredibly competitive in a certain way, dancers have a perception of perfection that I don’t think actors necessarily do, actors always feel that for every part there is always something they can do differently and that there is no such thing as perfect. Where as a dancer spends their career trying to achieve something that is impossible, but they’re both incredibly disciplined. I’ve never met anybody in any industry as disciplined as a ballerina, I’ve seen an actor call in sick, I’ve never seen a ballerina call in sick, and that’s a testament to their work ethic, because it’s an incredibly competitive world.


It’s a film about dance but it doesn’t stand in the shadow of “The Red Shoes”, I wondered what other cinematic references you may have had while in pre-production for this film?

Darren Aronofsky: I saw Red Shoes pretty late in the game, Scorsese did a restoration of the negative. I was blown away that the stories were so similar. They were both in the ballet world, characters that emerge, similar themes. There are a lot of references along the way, of course Polanski and Cronenberg, even Dar Dens, which was a big influence on The Wrestler which followed through to Black Swan.


Your character definitely seems to talk the director talk, is there anyone in particular that you studied for your part?

Vincent Cassel: When I was much younger I had the opportunity to be close to Michael Bennett, who was the director of Chorus Line, Dreamgirls, Ballroom, he was one of the biggest Broadway directors ever and a friend of the family. My father actually had a part in Chorus Line London, so I have seen him work with the dancers, he was a jerk but he got them where he want them to go, however, he was gay and that’s a pretty big different because my character here is definitely not gay, he uses his sexuality to direct the dancers.


Black Swan Film Page | Mila Kunis Profile | Vincent Cassel Profile