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After walking the red carpet at the Nymphomaniac premiere in Berlin with a paper bag over his head, Shia LaBeouf was nowhere to be seen at Thursday’s premiere of the first part of Lars von Trier‘s sexual epic in New York.
Von Trier himself was also missing, perhaps in keeping with his decision to refrain from making public comments after his remarks about “understanding Hitler” at his press conference for Melancholia got him banned from the Cannes Film Festival.
The stars who were on hand for Nymphomaniac‘s New York debut included frequent von Trier collaborators Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgard and those who had their first experience with the controversial director: Uma Thurman, Christian Slater and newcomer Stacy Martin.
Gainsbourg, who previously starred in von Trier’s Melancholia and Antichrist, said that each film is both a continuation of their work together and a new experience.
“Each time he comes up with a different, new experience, taking me to new and other places,” she told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet before the movie’s Museum of Modern Art screening. “It’s like being able to continue work. It’s not the same film of course, but there’s something, there’s an evolution that I really love.”
Although she admitted she’s always surprised when he asks her to do another film, she said she’d eagerly keep collaborating with him, but she’s afraid Nymphomaniac may be their last movie together.
“I don’t think he’ll ask me again, though,” she said. “After three times, I think he knows everything about me.”
In the film, the younger version of Gainsbourg’s self-proclaimed nymphomaniac character, Joe, is played by Martin, who got the part while she was still training to be an actress.
“I was very lucky to meet the casting director while I was still training, and he sort of took me out of my world and pushed me into this world, and I was very lucky to actually get the part,” Martin explained, adding that she auditioned twice in London, went for a screen test in Copenhagen, met Lars and did some scenes before finding out a few weeks later that she’d landed the job.
Although she and Gainsbourg play the same character, they didn’t spend any time working together on the portrayal, Martin admitted.
She said knowing Gainsbourg would be playing the older character and having faith in the script helped her create an authentic portrayal of Gainsbourg’s character’s younger self.
“I think that … knowing that Charlotte Gainsbourg is going to be playing half of your character’s life subconsciously plays a lot,” Martin said. “She has a certain pace, certain range and a certain attitude as well, and that helped me a lot. And then it was also just a question of having faith in the character because everything is in the script.”
Despite the explicit sex scenes Martin has, she said there wasn’t anything she had to do in the movie that she was hesitant about doing.
“Everything was pretty set, all the boundaries and everything was pretty organized and agreed upon before I did the film,” she explained. “So once we came to filming it, it was actually very fun, and we had a lot of fun just because it was so crazy, we had to enjoy it.”
Slater told THR that he signed on for his first von Trier film because of the director and the film’s subject matter.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Lars von Trier; I think he’s an amazing director,” Slater said. “And it was a unique subject matter, and it was a lovely part to play.”
Nymphomaniac has been available on demand since March 6 but hits theaters on March 21. Slater said he thought that release strategy could be helpful for a film like this and people who might be ashamed to buy tickets for it.
“I think it makes a lot of sense for this kind of movie because I can imagine people having a hard time going to the theater to see a movie called Nymphomaniac, so I think they’re going to be a lot more comfortable watching it in their own living rooms without the judgment or fear of someone looking over their shoulder,” he explained.
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