How Natalie Portman Injured Herself While Filming Black Swan

Film buffs know that many actors have put themselves through rough treatment in order to prepare for a role. However, it was Natalie Portman who arguably took it to a whole other level for "Black Swan." 

Fans will recall Portman's Academy Award-winning performance in the 2010 psychological horror film, in which she played professional dancer Nina Sayers opposite co-star Mila Kunis. Of course, Portman, who had little dancing background apart from some hours she spent in the studio as a child, spent over a year preparing for the role of Nina, per NPR — not just to master the technique, but even to achieve the realistic body type of a professional dancer. 

Although there was some controversy around the time of her Oscar win when Portman's dance double, Sarah Lane, came out and said she did a vast majority of her dancing seen in the film, director Darren Aronofsky defended Portman, insisting she had done at least 80% of the on-screen dancing. However, it becomes quite clear upon further inspection just how much Portman did for the film. In fact, many fans may not know just how far Portman went to master her role in "Black Swan" — indeed, she even injured herself more than once during production for the acclaimed movie. 

Natalie Portman dislocated a rib rehearsing for Black Swan

Although Natalie Portman did do a bit of dancing as a child, it wasn't until she was an adult, during filming for "Black Swan," that her dancing chops really got to shine. In fact, as director Darren Aronofsky revealed in an interview with MTV, Portman expressed interest in playing a ballet dancer about 10 years prior to the film's production. Describing Portman's inclusion in the film as one of the "best things" about it, Aronofsky said, "It's kind of weird. It came together really well ... she took the part and ran with it." He added that Portman may have even "somehow transformed herself to the part."

Upon realizing how Portman prepared for her role, Aronofsky's words certainly ring true. Not only did Portman lose 20 pounds for the film, but the training was so intensive that she actually sustained a number of injuries while rehearsing. According to NPR, these injuries included calloused feet, lost toenails — and even a dislocated rib. "There were some nights that I thought I literally was going to die," she told Entertainment Weekly at the time. "It was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of take you down." However, that did not deter her from mastering one of her dream roles. 

Natalie Portman underwent a strict diet while filming

While preparing for the role of a professional dancer, Natalie Portman went through a lot more than just injuries, which likely wouldn't surprise anyone in the dance world. According to the Independent, Portman ate little more than carrots and almonds while filming, which is how she lost upward of 20 pounds. However, she was quick to dismiss any of these hardships, claiming they were paltry compared to what real professional dancers have to go through constantly. 

She told NPR in 2010, for instance, that, "Real dancers dance with such incredible injuries that you wouldn't even believe. It's a nightmare for them to be replaced once they've made it to the top and they get these roles."

Benjamin Millepied — the longtime professional ballet dancer who was also a "Black Swan" choreographer, and later became Portman's husband — praised her performance in the film, despite her status as an amateur. He told the Los Angeles Times in 2011, for instance, that "what came off best" to him as a viewer was Portman, adding that her performance was "so believable, it was fantastic, that beautiful movement quality."