COPENHAGEN – Lars Von Trier is more commonly known for his light as fluff family friendly comedies, such as Antichrist and Breaking the Waves, so it came as a shock when it was announced that he was going to make what is already being dubbed as the Debbie Does Dallas of Denmark. Studio Exec was privileged to be the only high-ranking media outlet to be allowed EXCLUSIVE access to the set.
When I arrive at the studio some miles north of Copenhagen it is early morning, but shooting has already begun. Candles have been lit. Incense smoke rises to the hot studio lights. Von Trier – or Larsey as he prefers to be known – is wearing the gag he got Gucci to design since his infamous appearance at Cannes in 2011. He says something indecipherable to Shia LaBeouf who is naked except for two nipples tassels – like the ones lady strippers wear in Vegas. Uma Thurman sits to one side, texting. “Quiet on the set” is called for, and some music with heavy vibes is played to get everyone in the mood and then the only sound that can be heard is a kind of wet slapping – like someone spanking a baby pig – and the occasional fragile sound of a woman crying out in ecstasy.
The film charts the sexual life of a woman named Joe, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, who recounts her life as a self-styled nymphomaniac to the man who saved her from a beating. The high powered cast includes Lars Von Trier regulars like Stellan Skarsgard, Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe. At lunch, Dafoe is sitting with me now in the cafeteria, dressed as a plumber. I ask him about his role. “I’m a plumber.”, Dafoe says, “I come to fix her pipes. Then we have some dialogue, you know, ‘I need to screw this really hard’ ,and, ‘Oh, my nuts came loose’, and then we go for it.”
“What attracted you to the film?” I ask.
“Oh the writing,” Dafoe says. “Definitely the writing.”
Shia LaBeouf is wearing a dressing gown and eating coleslaw. “I hear you sent Lars a video of you having sex in order to get the part?” I say, “Is that true?”
“Yes and no.” answers the bafflingly famous actor. “I did send him a tape, but I’m an exhibitionist – I regularly send them to anyone I can. I didn’t even know he was making a film. I didn’t really know who he was, I mean ‘Lars’, is that really a man’s name? But once the story came out, it would have been like embarrassing to have just said you know. What’s your address by the way?”
As the day of filming end, I stand by the DP Manuel Claro. There have been girl on girl, man on girl, man on man and the day ended with an orgy scene. ‘It must be exhausting filming this,’ I say.
“Filming? I’ll let you in on a secret,” Claro leans close, “There’s no film in the camera. Larsey is just having his little joke. You know what he’s like.”
Nymphomaniac is due for release in December 2013
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Charlotte Gainsbourg Lars Von Trier Nicole Kidman Nymphomaniac on set Shia LaBeouf Stellan Skarsgard
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