Natalie Portman’s latest film, “Black Swan,” isn’t even out yet in theaters, but it’s already earning a host of Best Picture Oscar buzz. If critics are right, another contender for the Best Picture statue will be “The Social Network,” a film that the actress played a minor role in helping shape.
Natalie helped give the Facebook film’s screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, a bit of perspective on Harvard University, the school where she spent her undergraduate years. Natalie hosted a dinner for Aaron and invited some of her Harvard friends along, to give the writer and executive producer a little background on the prestigious American university.
“He was just sort of interested in what Harvard was like at the time, so I got like, 10 friends together — mainly younger friends who were in, you know, more like in the same year, as Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins,” Natalie told Access Hollywood at the “Black Swan” junket over the weekend in Los Angeles. “He just asked a bunch of questions and we just talked about, sort of, what campus life was like.”
At 29, Natalie is a few years older than Mark Zuckerberg, the now 26-year-old Facebook founder. She said she never encountered him during her time at Harvard.
“I didn’t know Mark Zuckerberg at all,” she said. “I have a lot of respect for him… I was a senior when all that stuff went down.”
While she may not have known Mark, the character of Divya Narenda refers to Natalie as a “movie star” at Harvard at one point, something that Natalie noticed.
“It’s a wonderful film,” she said. “I was appreciative of the shout out.”
As for her own upcoming film, Natalie dropped 20 pounds from her already-slender frame for the role of battling ballerina Nina in “Black Swan,” but she says she did it in the healthiest way possible.
”[Director] Darren [Aronofsky] said to me before the film, ‘How much weight do you think you can lose without getting sick?’… I’m a real eater, so I went to a nutritionist and I was like, ‘How am I going to do this ‘cause I cant not eat?’” Natalie explained to Access.
The actress said that with the help of a nutritionist, she got in movie ballerina shape by cutting down on how much she ate.
“They just made it… you know, sort of small portions of balanced foods that metabolize quickly throughout the day,” she said. “And I would always have little snacks, like I was eating constantly and like lots of water and yeah, I got really, really tiny.”
In addition to her smaller portions, the actress had an intense training ritual that spanned an entire year.
“I started training a year ahead of time. I had a teacher named Mary Helen Bowers who is really, really wonderful, and she started [me] with ballet and with strengthening so that I wouldn’t get injured,” Natalie recounted of getting ready for the role. “Then, about 6 months in, we added in swimming… and [we did] three hours of ballet.”
As the film’s production start date drew closer, Natalie’s training intensified.
“A couple of months before we added in the choreography,” she said of the additional techniques that came from the instruction book of Benjamin Millepied, who also appears in the film. “It was a real process and we kept it up while we were shooting… It was very intense but necessary, I mean you can’t really do that without committing full force.”