Born in Bordeaux, France, to a decathlete father and a dance teacher mother, the principal dancer with the prestigious New York City Ballet was inspired as a child by Mikhail Baryshnikov in White Nights.
But Millepied, 33, took his role as Portman’s dance partner in Black Swan (which he also choreographed) because he admired Director Darren Aronofsky’s work, and because he was certain “that I wasn’t going into another sort of average, uninteresting dance film.”
Here are five more things to know about Portman’s groom-to-be – and the future father her child:
1. It’s in His Name
Perhaps he was destined to dance? The name “Millepied” roughly means “a thousand feet” in French and it is reportedly not a stage name. Portman, on the other hand, was born Natalie Hershlag.
2. He Choreographs in the Kitchen
“I love to cook,” Millepied tells PEOPLE. “Nowadays I actually cook Italian-style food more than French heavy sauces. I make a good salad, some great roasted vegetables, grilled fish. I’m crazy about L.A. because at the farmers’ market you find all kinds of wild mushrooms.”
3. He’s on the Drum Beat
Millepied’s family moved to Dakar, Senegal, for a brief period when he was a child. “We lived next to this really famous family of drummers,” he has said, “so I played the drums seriously until I was 12 or 13 [years old].”
4. He’s Also a Director
“I just co-directed a French film in Paris with the actress Lea Seydoux (Inglorious Basterds) and I’m actually in it with her,” he says of the film Time Doesn’t Stand Still. “There’s one dance in it but it’s not really a dance film.”
5. He Proves the Uptight Ballet Dancer Is Just a Stereotype
“They are really normal and fun and outgoing people,” he says of his colleagues in dance. “Especially the new generation. The technical level is higher than it’s ever been and they’re as dedicated as ever. But they are people who know how to have a good time, that’s for sure.”