Photo of Darren Aronofsky Darren Aronofsky

A pioneering writer-director with an unflinching affinity for dark and disturbing subject matter, Darren Aronofsky was born Feb. 12, 1969, in Brooklyn, N.Y. After studying filmmaking at Harvard University, he earned his master's degree in directing from the American Film Institute.

Aronofsky's first movie, Pi (1998), garnered critical acclaim for its arresting portrayal of a mathematician gone mad. But his star-studded follow-up, Requiem for a Dream (2000) -- a project he developed at the Sundance Lab -- proved even more jarring, exploring the moral and psychological decay of desperately addicted characters.

Aronofsky cemented his reputation for spinning gold from gritty material with The Wrestler (2008), which won leading man Mickey Rourke a Golden Globe, and later steered Natalie Portman into new territory with the ballet thriller Black Swan (2010). The film earned multiple Oscar nominations, including a Best Director nod for Aronofsky.

Darren Aronofsky in Black Swan

Black Swan

2010 R

In director Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller, ambitious New York City ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) lands the lead in "Swan Lake" but soon thinks her dreams of stardom are threatened by a rival ballerina (Mila Kunis). As opening night nears and the pressure to be perfect builds, Nina's obsession descends into paranoia and delusion. Portman won an Academy Award for the film, which also nabbed an Oscar nod for Best Picture.

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