Filmmaking in Hollywood is never a straightforward process. Every year, scores of new scripts are written, and they sometimes lie around production houses for years before being dusted off, heavily rewritten, and then changed some more before finally being turned into a film.
That is also what happened with “Black Swan.” In 2000, filmmaker Darren Aronofsky was working on “Requiem for a Dream” and was already looking for a new subject matter for his next project and was inspired by a viewing of “Swan Lake” and a reading of “The Double” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. “Right about the same time this script came around, when I was editing ‘Requiem for a Dream,’ called ‘The Understudy,’ by Andres Heinz,” Aronofsky told IndieWire. “It was ‘All About Eve’ with a double, set in the off-Broadway world.”
Although the filmmaker tried to get hired to make the script into a film, the studio passed him over at the time. Years later, “The Understudy” was still stuck in development limbo. That was when Aronofsky brought in writer John McLaughlin to incorporate certain ideas the filmmaker had about a thriller set in the world of ballet into “The Understudy.” After even more struggles to find a studio that would back the project, and another rewrite by Mark Heyman, “The Understudy” finally went into production under the retitled name “Black Swan.”