Natalie Portman’s “Black Swan” dance double Sarah Lane and Fox Searchlight recently got into a feud over whether or not Portman did most of the dancing for the role that won her an Oscar. According to Sarah, Natalie was only featured in about five percent of the full body dance shots in the movie. Lane lashed out with this allegation after Portman’s fiancé and choreographer Benjamin Millepied stated that 85 percent of what is seen in the movie is Natalie, and the dancer was also upset that she didn’t get enough credit for her work in the movie’s credits.
But this isn’t the first Hollywood’s first case of “double trouble.” After seeing the movie “Flashdance,” French dancer Marine Jahan was upset that her name was not included in the credits for performing some of Jessica Beals’ dance sequences in the movie. Beals also had a male break dancer who went by the name Crazy Legs don a crazy wig to perform in her place for one dance sequence.
Actresses also use body doubles quite often in Hollywood for nude scenes, something that might annoy male fans thinking that they’re seeing the real deal. Lindsay Lohan recently used a nude body double in “Machete,” for example, despite having posed nude for photo shoots before. But some actresses even use body doubles for non-nude scenes — Touchstone, the studio behind “Pretty Woman,” first denied using a body other than that belonging to Julia Roberts for the movie, but later admitted that famous body double Shelley Michelle stood in for Julia in some scenes. Michelle also provided Kim Basinger’s legs in the opening sequence of “My Stepmother is an Alien” (so actresses aren’t as perfect as what they sometimes seem in movies).
Joan Rivers caused quite a stir by using a body double in a different way for her Go Daddy ad that aired during the super bowl. Joan was shown with a body that looked less than half her age during the commercial, and she took to Twitter to make sure to let her fans know that it was the real deal. However, it was later revealed that her head was actually placed on the body of model Tabitha Taylor. A similar method was used for the movie “Terminator: Salvation” when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face was CGI’d onto the body of Roland Kickinger (the governator’s bod just wasn’t what it used to be).
Body doubles also have a darker side — the use of them can sometimes be upsetting to fans in instances where a death is involved. Actor Brandon Lee died in a freak accident with a prop gun while shooting “The Crow,” and some of his fans might not have been too happy to find out that the rest of his scenes were completed by one of his stunt doubles.
There was also a more recent controversy surrounding the movie of another deceased celebrity when rumors circulated that a body double was used to fill in gaps in the documentary about Michael’s last concert, “This Is It” (apparently Joe Jackson claimed that the movie was “mostly body doubles”). However, Sony shot the allegations down.
And sometimes being a double can be deadly — Vin Diesel’s stunt double for the movie “xXx” died in 2002 while performing a paragliding stunt and hitting the pillar of bridge.
But Hollywood doesn’t just replace the bodies of actors and actresses in movies — sometimes their voices need changing, too. Some musical fans were likely upset when they found out that Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn didn’t possess the singing talents displayed in their movies “West Side Story” and “My Fair Lady”– Marni Nixon provided both of their beautiful singing voices for these beloved classics.
So while Natalie’s “Black Swan” dancing double might feel slighted, she’s not the first to have her hard work overlooked by film fans that only see (and hear) what moviemakers want them to.