Did actress Julia Stiles need a dance double in the hit 2001 film, Save the Last Dance?
The 34-year-old actress made waves in Hollywood with her leading role in the Thomas Carter-directed film, which also starred Sean Michael Thomas and Kerry Washington.
At the time, 19-year-old Julia Stiles had already added quite a few credits to her growing resume as an actress. In addition to playing a number of supporting roles, Julia landed her first lead role in the 1998 thriller, Wicked, as a disturbed teenager.
Therefore, when she brought Sara Johnson to the big screen in Save the Last Dance nearly three years later, it was not surprising that Julia Stiles was such a great actress.
What was a little shocking for fans and critics alike was the fact that Julia was also a great dancer. The question, then, becomes: Did Julia Stiles perform all of her own dance moves in the hit movie?
In addition to her hip-hop dance routines, Julia’s character also had to perform stunning ballet numbers at different points of the movie as well. Instead of hiring a dancer that could act to play her role, they apparently decided to go with Julia Stiles — an actress that could dance.
During a January, 2000, interview with Hollywood.com, Stiles opened up about the challenging role — including her strong desire not to have a dance double for the majority of the scenes.
“The dilemma for me was I had to constantly prove myself as a dancer, because I didn’t want them to double me. So I was like, I understand you’re gonna have to double on pointe [ballet] cause I can’t do pointe, but everything else has to be me. And I told them I didn’t want them to bring a hip-hop double in.”
Stiles further explained that she was already comfortable with the hip-hop dance routines since they focused more on those dance numbers while filming the movie. She admitted that, when it came to the ballet routines that she did perform, she “just had to work really hard to do as well as [she] could.”
Julia was apparently determined to prove to the world that she could act and dance well on the big-screen — something that she claimed no one expected. Even though she was shaking the first time that they shot one of her ballet scenes, she stated that she was finally able to relax after they had completed a couple of takes.
It is not uncommon for actresses to be replaced in epic dance scenes with professional dancers. However, it seems to resonate with audiences more when an actor or actress does not necessarily need to be replaced with a double in every epic scene.
A lot of controversy surrounded Natalie Portman’s Oscar-winning performance in reference to her use of a dance double.
As reported by ABC News, director Darren Aronofsky claimed that Natalie was featured in 80 percent of the dance shots throughout the film (111 out of 139). However, Natalie’s dance double, Sarah Lane, claimed that she replaced Natalie in all of the “full body shots with actual dancing” in the film.
The authenticity of Julia Stiles’ performance as well as her impressive dance scenes in which a double was not necessary apparently spoke volumes to the movie’s fans.
Save the Last Dance generated over $131.7 million at the box office worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo –– including more than $91 million from U.S. sales alone.
It also introduced the world to Julia Stiles as a leading actress with an impressive range which allowed her to captivate audiences with acting chops and dancing skills in the same film.
[Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]