Natalie Portman’s role in Black Swan gave the actor much critical acclaim and praise. But the aftermath of the intense project left her on the verge of an emotional breakdown. Fortunately, it was a breakdown that was prevented thanks to Marvel and Thor.
Natalie Portman starved herself for ‘Black Swan’
Doing her Black Swan role justice meant that Portman had to go through an intense and disciplined curriculum. This involved the actor starving herself to truly embody her obsessive character.
“I was barely eating, I was working 16 hours a day,” Portman said in an interview with Daily Mail. “I was almost method acting without intending to. I do wonder now how people can do this kind of role when they have a family.”
“The physical discipline of it really helped for the emotional side of the character because you get the sense of the monastic lifestyle of only working out, that is a ballet dancer’s life,” she said. “You don’t drink, you don’t go out with your friends, you don’t have much food and you are constantly putting your body through extreme pain, so you get that understanding of the self-flagellation of a ballet dancer.”
‘Thor’ helped stop Natalie Portman from having a nervous breakdown
Portman once claimed that starring in Marvel’s Thor helped stop a nervous breakdown she almost experienced from working on Black Swan.
“(Thor) probably delayed the onset of a total breakdown from the efforts of doing Black Swan, which (was) going to hit at any moment. We got nice long breaks and I got to read in my trailer which was very comfortable and has a bed. I could eat whenever I wanted and train whenever I felt like it,” she explained to The Sun (via NME).
But it wasn’t just Thor that helped her recover from Black Swan. She also co-starred in the comedy film No Strings Attached with Ashton Kutcher, which also provided comfort to the Oscar-winner.
“Also I went on to do the Ivan Reitman comedy No Strings Attached as well. They didn’t require a lot of research ahead of time. They didn’t require any specific physical training. Both were very fun projects, surrounded by friends,” she said. “They were both the gentlest of any work experience I could have gone into after the extreme situation of doing Black Swan.”
Darren Aronofsky tried to pit Natalie Portman against Mila Kunis
In an interview with the LA Times, the cast revealed that Aronofsky would sometimes pit Portman and Black Swan co-star Mila Kunis against each other. This was to add a sense of rivalry to the actors that mirrored the characters they played.
“He’d say, ‘Oh, Mila is doing really well on her stuff. She’s so much better than you,’” Portman recalled. “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.”
Aronofsky chimed in discussing why it was important keeping Kunis and Portman apart for the film.
“I knew it might be really hard to keep them apart because they’re friends, but I just didn’t want them to know each other’s motives,” he explained. “I didn’t want them to compare notes. I wanted them to come from different places.”