Sometimes an actress is starving to play a part, and sometimes she’s just plain starving.
“Black Swan” stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis worked their bodies to the leanest proportions yet to play prima ballerinas in Darren Aronofsky’s arty psychological thriller. But as soon as filming -- and grueling training -- was over, it was all about power-loading the carbs.
“I believe the first meal was pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Portman, laughing, about her post-“Swan” indulgences.
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Kunis said her stomach felt "unsettled" at first when she reverted back to old eating habits but that didn't stop her from seeking out grease-laden goodies.
“You have no idea!” Kunis said. “It took me five months to lose 20 pounds, and it took me hours to gain it back!"
She added: "After production ended the first thing I did was go and get Panda Express at the airport terminal at Virgin America at JFK. Then I landed in L.A., and I got in my car and I drove to In and Out and I had a Double Double Animal Style with a root-beer float, and it was fantastic!”
Portman said she began strength training two hours a day with a ballet teacher a year before filming began. After six months, training changed to five hours a day, which included swimming a mile, toning and participating in a three-hour ballet class. Choreography was added to the routine two months before filming began.
“We were probably doing eight hours a day,” Portman said, “and 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 of only working out 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.”
“A lot of things change, your body changes,” Kunis said. “Here's the thing about ballet that I never knew about: It's one of the most physically excruciating sports that I've ever been a part of -- and I say sports because they train constantly, every single day.”
Aronfosky’s actresses were troopers, but the director said he was aware he was a hair’s breadth away from a full-on food rebellion.
“It was a really hard film to make,” he said. “There was really no money for the film and we had to push [production back] a lot of times, and I only found out recently that that Natalie would just be screaming [to] our mutual friend that she had to live on carrots and almonds for another three weeks -- and what was she going to do? So she was the one who suffered the most from not eating.”