The first major morsel of casting to hit the news was that Natalie Portman would be playing Nina, and according to the star, it was a role that Aranofsky had always had her in mind for.
“Darren and I started discussing doing the film in 2000,” Portman told USA Today, confirming that the project has been on Aronofsky’s radar for a lot longer than the three years since he presented it to Universal.
“The fact that I spent so long with the idea allowed it to marinate a little before we shot.”
It should prove to be one of the biggest tests of Portman’s acting talent to date, with her character forced to grapple with plenty more than the odd dance routine.
Not only will Nina find herself at loggerheads with her new rival, but she’ll also have a domineering mother to deal with in the form of Barbara Hershey.
Factor in Vincent Cassel’s sexually manipulative dance master, and she’s set to have quite the time of it. However, the adult nature of the part is apparently what drew Portman to the project in the first place.
“I'm trying to find roles that demand more adulthood from me,” she told MTV last year, “because you can get stuck in a very awful cute cycle as a woman in film, especially being such a small person."
"I'm a really late bloomer. In my own life, it's only been the last couple of years where I'm like, ‘I'm an adult.’"
Her character Nina is initially drafted into the film’s production of Swan Lake as the White Swan, a paragon of poise and innocence.
Lily (Mila Kunis) on the other hand, is the polar opposite, a sexy, sultry dancer plucked by Cassel’s character to play the Dark Swan.
“My character appears and is everything that (Nina) wants to be in life,” Kunis told Collider. “Her character is very professional, very strict and very neurotic."
"And, my character is very loose. The talent that my character has in ballet comes naturally to her.
She’s not as technically as good as Natalie’s character, but she has more passion naturally, and that’s what Natalie’s character lacks, and so it’s a battle. It’s a yin and yang.”
However, when asked to explain any further, Kunis goes all coy on us, particularly when it comes to discussing the film’s more “psychological” element.
“(Lily’s) not a bad girl,” she insists. “There’s no protagonist and antagonist. There really isn’t. I don’t know how to do press for this because I cannot explain this movie to save my life."
"There are no bad people in this movie. As far as (Natalie’s character) and I go, it’s just an unfortunate tale.”
With much of the film’s pre-release buzz making reference to a “supernatural element”, we’ve got a sneaking suspicion that Kunis’s character might not be everything she seems…
Next: Dancers In The Dark