Battle of the ballerinas? Natalie Portman revealed in a new interview that Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky tried to pit her against costar Mila Kunis while the actresses were filming the 2010 dance drama.
Chatting with Vogue, Portman, 35, opened up about Aronofsky’s attempt at brewing bad blood between herself and the 33-year-old That ’70s Show alumna, with whom she had been friends for years prior to working together.
“He’d say, ‘Oh, Mila is doing really well on her stuff. She’s so much better than you,’” the Tale of Love and Darkness director told the fashion mag. “Darren would tell us things about each other to try to make us jealous. I think he was trying to create a rivalry in real life between us.”
As fans of Black Swan are aware, Portman and Kunis played Nina and Lily, respectively, two ballet dancers who were competing to play the lead role in a production of Swan Lake. Portman went on to win the 2011 Oscar for best actress for her intense performance.
Despite Aronofsky’s meddling behind the scenes, the Harvard graduate told MTV News, in 2010, that she and Kunis got closer than ever while working together.
“Mila and I had had ‘sweatpants nights’ watching Top Chef,” she recounted, “and suddenly we were on set together in tutus, emaciated and tired.”
Though Aronofsky, 47, had seemingly hoped their onscreen rivalry would manifest in real life, Portman believes the experience strengthened her bond with Kunis. (Portman played the love interest of Kunis’ husband, Ashton Kutcher, in 2011’s No Strings Attached.)
“It’s interesting always to see someone working who you only know socially,” she explained to MTV News. “It’s great to see someone do so beautifully in a work context after you know they’re just a fun, cool person.”