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Charlotte Gainsbourg Talks Lars Von Trier: “For Me, There Is A Before Lars, And An After Lars” – Zurich Film Festival

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Charlotte Gainsbourg revealed the lasting impact of working with Danish director Lars von Trier at a Masterclass at the Zurich Film Festival this week, where she also received its honorary Golden Eye career award.

From 2009 to 2013, the British-French actress shot three films with the director – Antichrist, Melancholia and the two-part Nymphomaniac  – and at the time was sometimes referred to as his muse.

Gainsbourg said the period she spent working with von Trier, who has recently announced he is taking a break from directing following his diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease, was a milestone in her career.

“For Me, There Is A Before Lars, And An After Lars,” she said. “He taught me so much and different things with each film.”

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“You have such freedom with him,” she continued. “You get into a scene, you know your lines and then he just says, ‘Well, that was just crap… What I wrote was crap, so let’s start again from scratch’. So, he is not accusing you and you explore. The whole thing is exploring, then you go to another director and think you will have the same freedom and no, that director is very attached to his lines.”

The actress revealed that her first meeting with von Trier fell flat.

“It didn’t go that well and I came out thinking, ‘Oh, he’s not interested’, and then he called, and I did his film,” she said.

Lars von Trier and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg with Antichrist in Cannes in 2009
Willen Dafoe Lars von Trier, Charlotte Gainsbourg in Cannes in 2009
Jean Baptiste Lacroix/FilmMagic

Their first collaboration on Antichrist arose after the actress who originally signed for the role dropped out at the eleventh hour.

“There was a bit of a panic on their side. They interviewed a few actresses.  I don’t know why he chose me. I don’t know what he knew about me,” he said.

Gainsbourg won best actress at Cannes in 2009 for her performance in the film as a woman who retreats to a cabin in the woods with her husband (Willem Dafoe) where they nurse their crazed grief following the accidental death of their son.

“My part was called ‘she’ and Willem’s part was ‘he’. It was very anonymous.  It was as if I had no past and that was wonderful to be like this new object,” said Gainsbourg.

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“It was very demanding. I was completely puzzled by what he was asking. He was asking me to be hysterical and then laughing and then crying – all sorts of different emotions for the same scene. I did go to him after a day of the shoot and say, ‘I don’t understand what I am doing. You’re asking for all different sorts of direction’. He just said, ‘Trust me, that’s the way I work’,” she recounted.

Gainsbourg said von Trier would change in approach and attitude from project to project, which had been disconcerting when she came to work with the director on Melancholia just two years after Antichrist.

“I entered the shoot thinking, ‘I know Lars, I’ll have this special relationship with him’ and he totally put me aside,” she recalled.

“At one point, I went to see the producer and said, ‘I think he wants to fire me, he’s not happy’.  At the end of the shoot, she came to see me and said, ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t reassure you because Lars didn’t want me to. He wanted you in that awkward spot’. I was really unhappy and it’s the film I am most proud of,” she revealed.

It was shortly after the film’s tumultuous trip to Cannes in 2011, during which von Trier got himself banned from the event for seven years after an ill-advised joke about Hitler, that the director first mooted his plans for Nymphomaniac., initially including Gainsbourg’s co-star Kirsten Dunst in the mix.

“We went to Cannes again. That was a disaster, but still, he said he wanted to do a porn film with both of us. I thought it was a joke and he came up with Nymphomaniac,” said Gainsbourg.

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She said the Nymphomaniac shoot was the most “fun” of all her collaborations with von Trier, even though there were difficult family circumstances in the backdrop.

“I was losing my father-in-law so I asked if I could get out of the film and be beside Yvan [Gainsbourg’s partner Yvan Attal]. They said, ‘No we’re shooting in two weeks, you have to do it’,” recalled the actress.

“He was so sweet with me, so kind and understanding. The shoot was fun, fun. It was so extreme, the sex was so extreme, having to mould between my legs, these two guys, the whole thing was so comical at times, I had to laugh about it, he was laughing about it.”

Gainsbourg revealed von Trier had also supported her first steps into directing, on a music video for the title song of her 2017 album ‘Rest’.

She originally asked him to direct it but he did not have the time.

“[He said] ‘I’ll give you instructions and you’ll have to follow the instructions’. It was great because it meant I had the courage to do it. It was like doing an exercise. I can’t remember exactly what he asked for, but I did everything and then I felt very empowered to the next one and the next one,” said Gainsbourg.

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Jane By Charlotte
Jane By Charlotte
Cannes Film Festival

The actress has since directed her first feature-length work, the deeply personal documentary 2021 Jane By Charlotte, exploring the life of her actress and singer mother Jane Birkin and their complex relationship.

“This was very much a personal view on my mother and our relationship, [touching on] the awkwardness between us, the beauty she has, the fantasy. She was an incredible person to follow, not only because she is my mother. I felt very lucky to be able to explore and for her to be so open.”

Gainsbourg said she would like to direct again but was looking for the right project, adding it would probably be a personal subject once again if she did.

“This [Jane by Charlotte] was a very particular project. I would love to be able to shoot again, to watch actors, because that was incredible to be in the editing room, looking at her, you’re in love with your actors and it’s quite magical that time you get. I hope someday I will have a story to tell, something as personal. But I have to find that.”

Gainsbourg revealed it was Birkin who had gently steered her towards acting, shortly after she had appeared in the video for her father Serge Gainsbourg’s controversial 1984 song ‘Lemon Incest’, suggesting she went for a role in Claude Miller’s An Impudent Girl. She was just 12 years old at the time.

“My mother thought it would be good for me if I had one step in a film, in something separate from my family’s story, to have my own path,” said Gainsbourg. “She was having lunch with a casting director who told her they were looking for a girl of my age.”

“I can’t remember wanting to be an actress. My mother does. She says, she saw it in my eyes, when I was watching her in front of the camera, she saw I was looking for that.”

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Gainsbourg clinched the role of a rebellious, motherless teenager and went on to win the César in 1986 for best promising new actress.

Despite this early success, Gainsbourg said she enjoyed a “normal life” as an adolescent

“I would go to school and then in the summer I would choose a film,” she recounted.

Gainsbourg was also in Zurich for the world premiere of Celyn Jones and Tom Stern’s The Almond And The Seahorse about two couples whose lives together are irrevocably changed when one partner suffers a traumatic brain injury.

She co-stars alongside Jones, Trine Dyrholm, Meera Syal and Rebel Wilson as one of the unafflicted partners struggling to come to terms with her partner’s memory loss and personality change.

“I found it very touching to look at the patients, but also what the loved ones are going through,” she said of her decision to take on the role. “It was a very beautiful perspective of four characters.”

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Netflix & Paramount+ To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’ ; TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome With Toon Series; ‘One Piece Film Red’ London Takeover — Global Briefs

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Netflix & Paramount+ UK To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’

Netflix and Paramount+ have struck a first of its kind-of-deal over a true crime documentary telling the story of the strip search caller in the U.S. Paramount+ has taken UK rights to Pervert: The Hunt for the Strip Search Caller and Netflix has rest of world on the doc, which it will be calling Don’t Pick Up the Phone. The deal is believed to be the first time two streamers have worked in such a way in the UK and rest of world. The doc tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across the U.S. – posing as a police officer investigating a theft, the caller instructed managers to strip-search the young female employees he said were suspects. For many victims, what began as a humiliating strip search escalated into sexual abuse.

Canada’s TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome In Animated Series ‘Griffin And Turner’

EXCLUSIVE: Ontario, Canada’s TVOkids and Big Jump Entertainment are working on 2D-animated series Griffin and Turner. Based on real Canadian brothers who a significant online following, the show follows the supportive pair as they, their friends and family undertake personal challenges but focus on the journey rather than winning. Turner has Down syndrome, and TVOKids executive producer Kirsten Hurd noted the series has been developed in consultation with the Down syndrome community. Producer Big Jump is behind shows such as Shutterbug and Big Words, Small Stories.

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London Gets ‘One Piece Film Red’ Takeover After Record Haul

To celebrate the record-breaking haul of One Piece Film Red in the UK, the Straw Hat Pirates are set for a takeover of iconic London locations on November 26. Via local distributor Anime Limited and Toei Animation, the cast and memorable scenes from the series will be projected onto the County Hall of London, opposite the London Eye as well as other key locations. One Piece Film: Red has grossed over £800,000 in the UK and Ireland since it released earlier this month, making it the biggest of the long-running franchise. A phenomenon in Japan, One Piece Film Red has grossed $162M to date worldwide 



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‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Belfast’ Top 2022 EFA Arts & Crafts Awards

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Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast top the European Film Academy’s Excellence Awards honoring achievement in the arts and crafts categories, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday.

Belfast won best European Production Design for Jim Clay, whose credits include Children Of Men, for which he won a Bafta in 2006, and Murder On The Orient Express.

The drama, set against the backdrop of the beginnings of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969, also won best European Costume Design for Charlotte Walter (Blithe Spirit, Misbehaviour)

Netflix-backed German WWI drama All Quiet On The Western Front won best European Make-up & Hair for Heike Merker, and Best European Special Effects for Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller and Markus Frank.

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 In other categories, best European Cinematography was won by Kate McCullough for her work on Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language drama The Quiet Girl.

Best European Editing went to Özcan Vardar and Eytan İpeker for Turkish director Emin Alper’s drama Burning Days.

Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn won best European Original Score went for Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.

Best European Sound went to Simone Paolo Olivero, Paolo Benvenuti, Benni Atria, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for Michelangelo Frammartino’s cave exploration drama The Hole.

The winners, which are decided by a special expert jury, will receive their awards at the European Film Awards ceremony on 10 December in Reykjavík.

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Jennifer Lopez’s Social Media Mysteriously Goes Dark

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EXCLUSIVE: The actress, producer and top-selling performing artist’s social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter have suddenly gone dark in their featured/cover images.

Reps for Jennifer Lopez were unavailable for comment, but we hear from others that The Hustlers and Marry Me actress is on the verge of announcing a new project.

Here’s a look at her Instagram tonight:

While Lopez’s Instagram had erased all posts, a trail of her previous postings remained on Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter. Across all four social media portals, Lopez counts close to 347M followers, the majority of that coming from her Instagram.

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Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions in June 2021 signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix spanning feature films, TV series and unscripted content, with an emphasis on projects that support diverse female actors, writers and filmmakers. Lopez co-runs Nuyorican Productions with her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

Lopez scored her best opening for a live-action movie at the domestic box office with STX’s 2019 stripper caper Hustlers which debuted to $33.1 million, and grossed $105M stateside, $157.6M worldwide.  As a recording artist, Lopez has sold over 70 million albums, with J.Lo became her bestselling album with 3.8M copies sold in the U.S. and 12M global. Her Netflix thriller The Mother from director Niki Caro is set to debut in May. Her romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding with Josh Duhamel will hit Prime Video on Jan. 27.

On Facebook, one of her followers, Steffany Merino wrote, “What’s happened? Hope you and your wonderful family are ok. I’ll pray for your health and safety.”

Again, we hear something special is in the works in the next few days.



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