Date of Birth: February 12, 1969
Raised in a Conservative Jewish household in Brighton Beach, Darren Aronofsky attended Hebrew school and celebrated his bar mitzvah. He went on to study math at Harvard before attending the American Film Institute graduate program. For his thesis film, Supermarket Sweep, he cast Sean Gullette, whom he had met at Harvard. Aronofsky utilized Gullette's talents again by casting him in the lead of Pi, his first full-length feature.
With a budget of $60,000, Aronofsky's thriller about a mathematician's race to decipher the secrets of the universe through the number pi traveled at a breathless pace in black and white. Inspired by a rare comic book, Aronofsky used a stock called reversal film, which offers no grey or midtones in order to create a "hyper real" world for his audience.
Since no full-length feature had been shot on reversal film due to costs and difficulty in handling and processing, only one company in the U.S. would develop it. The task eventually swallowed 60 percent of the production's budget, but it paid off with the film's unique look. It was quickly snapped up by Artisan and opened in the U.S. during the same weekend as Lethal Weapon 4. Aronofsky's film managed to hold its own, pulling in $3.1 million. In addition, Aronofsky won the Best DirectorÂ¹s Award at Sundance, Best First Screenplay at the Independent Film Awards, published his film diary and the film even spawned a comic book.
His next film, Requiem For a Dream (2000) adapted from Hubert Selby Jr.'s novel, starred Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly. Containing over 2000 cuts (as compared to the usual 600-700 for most films), the film features a dual storyline that focuses on a mother obsessed with losing weight for a TV appearance, her son, his girlfriend and his best friend, who are all addicted to heroin.
It took six years for his next movie to be released. The Fountain (2006), starring Hugh Jackman as a man who lives several lives over the course of 1,000 years, was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. He won several awards for his next film, The Wrestler (2008) starring Mickey Rourke. His latest film, Black Swan (2010) starring Natalie Portman, screened at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.