When I went to the audition to meet the director of "Black Swan," Darren Aronofsky, who is a legend in my world, I dressed for the part which was "a society woman" and since I live on Park Avenue and know the world well, he was suitably impressed. I had on a black Armani suit, pearls, Chanel heels, diamond ring, and a rather well worn black Hermes handbag. He asked me several questions about where I lived and so on and then said, "Okay, you look the part, but can you act?"
Aha, my 35 years on daytime TV came to the rescue and I hoped to impress him with all the parts I had played on soap operas; from being a Nobel prize cardiologist on "Another World," to a Chanel suited nurse to a murderess, mother of a murderess and grandmother of a seven-year-old murderess (Hayden Panettiere, no less) on "Guiding Light." I added my parts of being an abused wife, a breast cancer survivor, the mother of a daughter who drowned twice (both times leaving one red shoe behind and who returned healthy and happy as a different person each time.) I was not sure that worked, so I mentioned I had been in a lot of movies. He still nicely asked me to read the one line I had come downtown to the Lower West Side to auditon for. He asked me to do it many times and in many different ways. The line was -- "Thomas, come and meet Barbara -- she is from Dallas. No, she is Dallas." (The last part of the line was cut in the film.)
I was just thrilled when I got the part! I was to play Mrs. Fithian, the patroness of the ballet, and I was to be the deus ex machina who calls Vincent Cassel ("Thomas, come meet Barbara") from Natalie Portman so Winona Ryder can walk in and attack her verbally. I am obviously not someone who is unwilling to do small parts. I was thrilled to do it and work with everyone in that film.
Thrilled was I as I arrived on a freezing, bitter, bitter cold night with my black velvet evening gown and strands of pearls and earrings for the wardrobe to decide on. I was sent to my own trailer where the heat was turned up on high. The winds were blowing over 30mph and we were to do the scene outside. I could hardly stand against the wind as I walked to the makeup trailer. They have someone to walk with you wherever you are going. Sort of fun! When I entered there were Natalie Portman and Winona Ryder and I was plunked down between them. I said "Hi, I'm Tina Sloan" and they nodded and said "Hi." That was it of course as they had lines to study and so on. But never to be silenced I added to Natalie, "I am Renny McPherson's mother." Now Natalie beamed and said, "Oh, I saw him at Ivanka and Jared's wedding last weekend." Renny and Natalie had been in the same class at Harvard and so through my son, I was warmly included and chatted with as we went via makeup transformation from normal to movie stars (I of course was not transformed as they were since the age differential precludes my glowing with dewy youth)
I queried as to how they felt about going into the 30mph gusts to do the scene and they both just shrugged. They weren't going to complain at all about it and I kept thinking the winds would blow them away as they are both so delicate and lovely. But they were there to work under any conditions. So, I decided to be as good natured and brave as they were and not to discuss it. Fortunately, the powers that be decided to do the scene inside and I stepped from behind a pillar to beckon Thomas/Victor away from Nina/Natalie so that the real moment could happen when Nina is affronted by a furious Beth/Winona. This was one moment in a long scene that was filmed all night for two nights down on Wall Street in a gorgeous structure. When I saw it in the theater, my tiny moment made me glow, but the genius of Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel, who said the lines on the stairs again and again and never complained, was what stayed with me. Darren Aronofsky goes for perfection in the tiniest details and it makes a film like "Black Swan." So when someone says, "have you seen 'Black Swan,'" I get to smile and say" Oh, Yes I am in it" and watch them register. Oh such fun! One line!
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