Meet the prima ballerina who was Jennifer Lawrence's 'Red Sparrow' body double
Even before its official release, there were a plethora of headlines about Red Sparrow, the spy thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence. The actress, who is surprisingly open and honest about her experiences in the movie industry, has spoken about what it was like filming the nude scenes in the film and how she used it as a means to reclaim her sexuality.
In Red Sparrow, Lawrence plays Dominka Egorova, a Russian ballerina who suffers from a career-ending injury. After this, she is recruited as a spy and put through a grueling training regime. In real life, Lawrence was put through a difficult process to get into the role. She went on a very strict diet and spent three months training for the dance scenes, but at the end of the day, there were some things they needed a true artist to fulfill.
The role of stunt double for Lawrence was eventually filled by Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater in New York City. Isabella has danced the parts of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, the title part in Giselle, Gamzatti in La Bayadere, and played the Nutcracker's Sugarplum Fairy, but this was her big screen debut.
Speaking to WWD, she explained how the job came about:
"I think they were really committed to being as accurate as possible, so they wanted a principal dancer, a real ballerina.
"Justin Peck, the choreographer, is a good friend of mine—we had worked together before on our own film that premiered at Tribeca Film Festival a couple of years ago. He called me and was like, "I think you'd be a great fit for this project." And I was like, Francis Lawrence? Jen Lawrence? Sign me up."
Traveling to Budapest with Lawrence (who she referred to as "super real and hilarious") and the rest of the crew, the 31-year-old ended up working on set for up to 12 hours a day. Even for Boylston, who is used to nine-hour training sessions, this was rough going.
"You'd wake up at four am to get into hair and makeup, then you'll do 10 takes of the same thing and sit around and your muscles get so cold," she explained. "It was basically trying not to get injured with all the stop and go."
There have been some points in the past where stunt doubles haven't had the best time on the set of a film, like with Black Swan. Speaking to Interview Magazine she said:
"Dancers are so disciplined and tough that they can be successful in whatever endeavor they choose following their ballet careers.
"At first I did have [some] misgivings about being a double. Because it's like, I've worked so hard to get to the top of my field."
Boylston's fellow American Ballet Theater principal dancer Sarah Lane was Natalie Portman's dance double on that film, but many in the ballet community felt that she didn't receive enough recognition for her work in the film.
However, it was a positive experience for Isabella, who told the interviewer: "If you need a ballerina for a movie, call me!"