Charlotte Gainsbourg on Working with Lars von Trier

Via signandsight’s weekly newsletter, this interview with actress Charlotte Gainsbourg:

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Playing Lars

Charlotte Gainsbourg discovered her limits while filming “Antichrist” with Lars von Trier – a man who has much in common with her father Serge. She talks about the gruelling but rewarding experience with Martina Meister.

Frankfurter Rundschau: Charlotte, did you emerge from “Antichrist” unscathed?

Charlotte Gainsbourg
: I think I did, yes. At least that’s what I try to tell myself. But of course my role was disturbing and unsettling. During the filming I spent two months covered in blood and running through the woods screaming. It was like being in a trance. I dreamed a lot during this time but I also enjoyed my character.

You mean that there was something pleasurable in playing this extremely aggressive role?

Absolutely. I really enjoyed all the screaming. It was as if I’d been given a license to go through a crisis for two months and completely let myself go. You don’t normally get such freedom in real life. Not even children are allowed to explode like that. I really let off steam in this role.

How could you stand being in mourning for so long?

Only by breaking out of it. Otherwise I would never have been about to keep going for two months. But I was happy to shut myself away in the atmosphere of the film. We were completely cut off from the world in a forest near Cologne. We were filming in this beautiful nature but we were living in a brand new hotel that looked onto a golf course. It was all very sterile. There was no lobby, no reception. At the end of the day I would go straight up to my room. There was something euphoric about my role, but I was completely exhausted after two months.

Everyone was describing “Antichrist” as a breaking point in your career. Do you feel like that, that there was a “before” and “after”?

When I returned from Cannes, everyone congratulated me and was excited with me, which I found very touching. It was like I’d won the World Cup! But actually the “after” had started well before that. I’d started working on a new film even before Cannes. Without really taking time for myself, to catch my breath. Of course while we were making “Antichrist”, I had the feeling that the next film would be difficult. I knew I was playing an extreme role and that it would probably be a while before someone asked me to go that far again. I had to show extreme sensibility, extreme sorrow but also extreme aggressiveness, all mixed up with horror, blood and sex.

It was the first time you have worked with Lars von Trier

Yes and it was a revelation for me. It was also a meaningful encounter with a person who, though I still don’t really know him, feels very familiar and I feel very close to.

[Read the rest of the interview here.]

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