January 05, 2011 2:44pm PT by Tim Appelo
Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis' Tequila Sex Scene: 'Black Swan' Oscar Fuel?
Black Swan's tequila-scented lesbian sex scene isn't just gossip fodder, it's serious business, serious art and Oscar-friendly.
Yes, I know Mila Kunis denied that she and Natalie Portman ever quaffed blue agave-based hard liquor before shooting their Black Swan sex scene. "There was no tequila! I don't know where that rumor came from, but it's false," Kunis told People at AFI Fest's closing night gala Nov. 5.
But my on-set eyewitness source says it is true. "It got everyone relaxed," says the source. This is serious, not just jolly gossip, and one sees why Kunis might want to deny it even if my source is the one telling the truth. Filmmakers have nightmares about hiring Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears in their cups. It's wise for an actress to stress her extreme reliability, and ability to film the toughest scenes unassisted by anything but talent.
Yet alcohol in moderation is an entirely valid tool in the artist's arsenal. In less moderation, it's the reason Ringo Starr got the raves as an acting natural in A Hard Day's Night instead of the incredibly self-conscious Paul and John: "I was droonk," Starr explained.
I never heard anybody say either Kunis or Portman was as droonk as alcoholic Ringo in this scene or any other. Nobody's saying they're anything but reliable, and exquisitely skilled. Besides, the proof is in the 100-proof pudding. The scene works wonders. It draws male audiences to a ballet movie. It's aesthetically beautiful, packing a shock kick and a scorpion sting. It embodies the passionate intensity that is the signature of director Darren Aronofsky.
It serves a dramatic purpose akin to the tentacular waving males arms that grope genophobe Catherine Deneuve in Roman Polanski's Repulsion, capturing the grip of obsession, perhaps hallucination. Its eerie unrealism saved the R film from an NC-17 rating, in the opinion of Michelle Williams, whose Blue Valentine sex scene originally earned a potentially calamitous NC-17 (now reduced to R). "I think maybe it was because [Portman's] scene was more about a fantasy and mine was more about reality," Williams told The Daily Beast.
And it will play well, I predict by looking into my own dark 55-year-old heart, with the old goats of the Academy. If all that was facilitated by two shots of Cuervo 1800 Anejo tequila -- which I don't know it was, but I would've recommended were I on set -- then I propose a toast to two talents. Even before the Oscar envelopes are opened.
Follow THR's The Race Awards blog on Twitter: @timappelo.
Feedback, brickbats, shameless lobbying to: Tim.Appelo@thr.com.