Director Darren Aronofsky often explores themes of despair in his films—Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler, to name a few. His new movie, Black Swan, is a psychological thriller set in the world of ballet. But in his own life, the 41-year-old New York City native loves the uplifting, nostalgic milieu of Surf Avenue, the main drag of Brooklyn’s Coney Island on the Atlantic Ocean, where he spent childhood summers at the arcade downing saltwater taffy. “When immigrants came to this country, the first place they went for fun was Coney Island,” says Aronofsky, who has a 4-year-old son, Henry, with actress Rachel Wiesz. “It carries the ghosts of a dying amusement park. Now a lot is happening there, and it’s coming back again.”
Coney Island, on the southern tip of Brooklyn in New York City, was America’s great amusement park at the turn of the 20th century.
—Jeanne Dorin McDowell
Photos by Evan Sung
This article has been adapted from the original, which appeared in the December 2010 issue of Sky.