Depending on whom you ask, Lars von Trier can be ferocious on set.
I’m pretty bulletproof when it comes to smart, notoriously difficult people. Lars has a slightly dark sense of humor; he likes to tweak you a little bit. But in general, I think he’s an extremely soulful artist. So I’m not scared of someone like that.
Did he think of you specifically for this enraged character?
You’d have to ask him that. I think he might have thought of his ex-wife! [Laughs] What Lars is trying to do is not about writing for movie stars. It’s about something deeply psychological.
In the scene, you ask to see the “whoring bed”—brilliant— and cut loose with this amazing scream.
That was in the script! He wrote this wild scream into the script, this sort of raw, almost abstract, guttural—I don’t know how you’d describe it. Plus, Lars shoots in whole-scene takes, so that was fantastic. It really was like being in the final rehearsal of a play.
For a seven-page scene, you really cover a lot of ground.
I hadn’t been working in a few years; I’d just had a baby. So I exercised more in one day than I might have in several months of sitting on a movie set. When it was over, I was tragically bummed.
What do you think happens to this woman afterward?
I’m sure she puts the pieces of her life back together, somehow. I mean, that’s what women do.
You’re a longtime New Yorker. Does the city give you energy?
I find its energy exhausting, to tell you the truth. I love to come home here. And I love to be in nature. So I have my own little dualities. But for the first time, I feel like it’s important for me, for my own soul, to allow myself to go back to work for a while.
Do you still think of yourself as Quentin Tarantino’s muse?
That would be so silly for me to answer! I would love to be his muse. It would be my great honor. But I’m not even sure what a muse is.
You’re an iconic ass-kicker. Are you planning to bring back your softer side, too?
All I want to do is explore the sensitive side of human beings. There isn’t that much to explore about ass-kicking. You just do it.
Nymphomanic: Volume I opens Fri 21.
Watch the trailer for Nymphomaniac: Volume I
Rated as: 4/5
Lars Von Trier’s wild, sprawling Nymphomaniac is an orgy of the sublime and the ridiculous. It’s the story of the self-destructive sex life of a woman named Joe, seen in her teens and twenties (as played by dazzling newcomer Stacy Martin), and also a middle-aged survivor (Charlotte Gainsbourg).
Read the full review for Nymphomaniac: Volume I