MILA KUNIS may have missed out on a Golden Globe for her supporting role in Black Swan, but the film is almost definitely a turning point in the 27-year-old's career - she is already tipped for Oscar consideration. The Ukranian-born actress plays Natalie Portman's free spirited, confident dancing rival. She talks to us about her long-term friendship with Portman, her risqué lesbian scenes and her dancing war wounds.
Is it true you heard about the film first from Natalie Portman while you were both at a flea market?
Kind of. Did Nat tell you this story? I don't remember this and I'm going to get in trouble from Nat. But Nat and I like to go to flea markets. We were in LA, flea market shopping for bargains, 'cos that's what we do on a Sunday morning. I remember saying 'What do you have to do after this?' And I remember her telling me 'I have to go to my ballet lesson.' I was like 'Okay' I didn't even think about it. That's all I remember from it. But I guess it makes sense, because then this movie came about. So yeah.
Did you friendship with Natalie make the intimate scenes easier?
I think so. Anytime you do a scene that you have to have sex on camera is just uncomfortable anyway. Male, female, makes no difference. So if you're comfortable with your partner in the scene, and you know them, it makes things a lot easier.
Was this the most physically demanding role of your career?
By far, by far. Aesthetically, I had to look like a ballerina and hold myself like a ballerina. By the end, I was 95lbs. So 20lbs was lost. It was gained back like that - I had no problems gaining the weight back, not at all.
How long did you train for?
Four hours a day, seven days a week, for seven months. And then production was the same. This was before production. I had one day off on my birthday - August 14. And then I had half a day off because I was doing training at the same time as the Emmys and the Globes, and the other awards shows, so my ballet instructor would meet me from 5am to 11am, then I would go to hair and make-up and go to the awards shows.
What kept you going?
Baths! It was so hard and so excruciating on anyone's body - and I'm not saying mine alone by any means. I think anyone who is 26 and attempts to be a professional ballerina will inevitably kill themselves! I did a lot of baths. It's what I looked forward to every single night - a bath, with Epsom salts and a glass of wine.
Did you get any injuries?
I did. Everybody had injuries. I dislocated my shoulder two weeks before production; in the first month of rehearsal I tore my calf ligament. And I have two scars on my back from where Benjamin had to lift me for six hours. I say I have scars - but he had to lift me for six hours so his arms might have fallen off at that point!
Did you compare war wounds with Natalie?
We didn't have to compare. We saw them happening right before our very own eyes. An opportunity like this very rarely comes about. So in order to complain, you kind of feel like a baby - so you choose not to complain.
When you were doing research for the role, did you get much of an insight into the rivalries that exist within the ballet world?
It didn't take much, let me tell you. They exist pretty visibly. The second you go into the ballet world you see how competitive it is. They don't try to hide it.
Is it like Hollywood in that respect?
It is and it isn't. In my experiences in the film industry it's not as competitive. There's some aspects that are, but not nearly as much as the ballet world. At all. I can't even put into words to you how competitive the ballet industry is. It's so small. They work their entire lives to try to achieve perfection that's inevitably impossible. And their career ends at 35, at best. I think that's why. Because how many prima ballerinas can you name, but how many movie stars can you name? It's very small - they're creatures all of their own kind.
How did you find the Rodarte costumes - were they comfortable?
The regular clothes were very comfortable but as far as the swan costumes - they were comfortable but after wearing them for 12 hours you couldn't breathe.
Tell us about your next film, Friends With Benefits.
It's Justin Timberlake, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson - a really fun movie. Comedy with a lot of heart. The whole movie is Justin and I. Every single scene. We're each other's friends with benefits! Let me be specific; I am not the friend with benefits. He may be my friend with benefits!
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