Natalie Portman leaps to Oscar for "Black Swan"

Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:09am EST
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By Dean Goodman and Edwin Chan

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Natalie Portman won the Oscar as best actress on Sunday for her role as an unhinged ballerina in the thriller "Black Swan," denying Annette Bening the golden statuette for the fourth time in her career.

The 29-year-old Israeli-American, considered the favorite after dominating other film awards shows leading up to the Oscars, was visibly overwhelmed as she dished out thanks in a trembling voice, and occasional stammer.

Portman trained five hours a day for six months to prepare for "Black Swan," a project she and director Darren Aronofsky first discussed about nine years ago. When they started shooting the film in 2009, it had yet to secure financing.

Her character, desperately insecure and possibly still a virgin, contends with professional jealousies and rivalries as she secures the dual lead roles in the ballet classic "Swan Lake". In the film, she grapples to separate truth from reality in a number of dream-like fantasy sequences.

A dazed Portman, whose roles have ranged from her breakout moment as an assassin-in-training orphan in "The Professional" to Queen Amidala in George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequels, drew some parallels with her onscreen persona.

"It feels very, very dream-like right now," said the pregnant Portman, clad in a flowing aubergine Rodarte that accommodated her growing bump. "I don't really remember anything that just happened just now. But the baby was definitely kicking a lot during the song portion of the show."


"Black Swan" was a commercial and critical hit, with worldwide ticket sales of more than $200 million. As a bonus, Portman last year announced she was pregnant and would marry the baby's father, a dancer she met on the "Black Swan" set.   Continued...

<p>Natalie Portman accepts the Oscar for best actress for her role in "Black Swan" during the 83rd Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 27, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>