Who Is Natalie Portman's Fiance, Benjamin Millepied?
He choreographed the dancing in the Golden Globe-nominated Black Swan, working under demanding director Darren Aronofsky, and still managed to sweep one of the brainiest, most beautiful bachelorettes in Hollywood, Natalie Portman, off her feet. But who is Benjamin Millepied, the 33-year-old Frenchman who has scored so big in Hollywood?
Portman's fiance and the father of her unborn child is from small town in Bordeaux, France, where he started dancing at his mother's ballet school at the tender age of 8. He quickly discovered a passion for the athletic art, and avidly followed professional dancing. "In France, ballet is on TV," he told Details magazine. "It's on the eight-o'clock news." Though he appreciated the ease of accessibility, he always had his sights set on America. "There was always the sense that something better was going on in the United States," he said in a statement that now seems prophetic.
After graduating from the prestigious Conservatoire National in Lyon, he moved to New York and had a spot at the New York City Ballet by the age of 18. Though many instructors thought it was unwise of him to pursue any career options other than dancing at such a young age, Millepied started working as a choreographer just four years later. He couldn't help himself. "I just have this other interest I love," he said of choreography.
Aronofsky, for one, was grateful for both Millepied's skill and his easygoing nature. "Usually when I tell people I'm doing a movie, doors open up, but the ballet world really didn't give a s**t," the director said. "It was clear Benjamin was going to help me communicate to audiences who had no connection to ballet." Millepied jumped at the chance for a Hollywood gig, and when a small role in the film came up to play Portman's dance partner, he suggested himself for the role. "I really, really got into it," he said. "You're standing up next to those actors, like Natalie, and you're like, 'F**k!' I was blown away – especially by Natalie, who was amazing to watch."
Millepied wasn't too shabby himself, according to Portman. The 29-year-old actress praised her fiance's talent and flexibility as a choreographer. "He knows how to change when things aren't working well. Sometimes I just couldn't do something. No matter how hard I worked, I couldn't do it. He would fix it to make it something that I could do," she told People. Mila Kunis backed up her costar. "Whatever he did, he always made it so that I was still able to do it and not look like a jackass," Kunis said in Details. "When he lifts you, he makes you feel light as a feather."
Millepied has a number of other interests, including directing. "I just directed a French film [called Time Doesn't Stand Still] in Paris with the actress Lea Seydoux [from Inglorious Basterds] and I'm actually in it with her," he told People. "There's one dance in it but it's not really a dance film." —KIMBERLY STEELE