While we don’t yet know whether the Oscar talk surrounding Darren Aronofsky’s "Black Swan" and its leading lady, Natalie Portman, will result in any golden statues, the movie — a psychological horror thriller set in the world of ballet — has already won a green award: a Green Seal from the Environmental Media Association for its eco-friendly production. Considering the director, it’s not surprising that the sets, which were constructed from eco-materials, were designed to be easily dismantled, reused or recycled, or that biodiesel generators were used on set, and that recycling programs were in place.
“Darren is a huge environmentalist and talks about it all the time and made sure that there were no water bottles anywhere on set, which is a huge deal,” says Portman. “We were drinking tons of water, obviously, because we're dancing and expending so much energy. Everyone was given containers and there were things to fill it up on the set.”
Every cast and crewmember got a "Black Swan"-logoed Klean Kanteen as a gift at the start of production, and the catering and craft service containers were biodegradable “instead of having Styrofoam,” notes Portman, a vegan with her own leather-free shoe line. “Film sets are incredibly wasteful,” Aronofsky points out. “You just try to do your best.”
In the movie, which opens Dec. 3, Portman plays a mentally fragile ballerina whose efforts to embody the dual role of the White Swan and Black Swan in "Swan Lake" have a disastrous effect on her psyche.
“I had danced when I was younger, until I was about 12. I always wanted to do a film relating to dance. It was a great challenge,” says the actress, who began preparing for the role a year in advance, first learning the basics for two hours a day for six months, then increasing that to five hours, adding in swimming a mile a day and then learning choreography for two months prior to filming.
“The physical discipline of it really helped for the emotional side of the character because you get the sense of the sort of monastic lifestyle that is a ballet dancer's life. You don't drink. You don't go out with your friends. You don't have much food. You are constantly putting your body through extreme pain and you really get that understanding of the self-flagellation of a ballet dancer.”
She was glad to let that discipline go afterward. “I believe the first meal was pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” she says.