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Charlotte Gainsbourg Thought Lars von Trier Would Fire Her from ‘Melancholia’

Two years after working on von Trier's "very demanding" film "Antichrist," Gainsbourg starred opposite Kirsten Dunst in the apocalyptic drama.




Charlotte Gainsbourg was melancholic on the set of Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia.”

The longtime von Trier collaborator reflected on the 2011 feature starring Kirsten Dunst as a woeful bride who sinks into depression as the end of the world looms. Two years after working on the “very demanding” film “Antichrist” also under helmer von Trier, Gainsbourg anticipated she would have a “special relationship” with the director on “Melancholia,” but her expectations were quickly curbed.

“I entered the shoot thinking, ‘I know Lars, I’ll have this special relationship with him,’ and he totally put me aside,” Gainsbourg said during a masterclass at the Zurich Film Festival, where she received the honorary Golden Eye career award (via Deadline).

“At one point, I went to see the producer and said, ‘I think he wants to fire me, he’s not happy,'” Gainsbourg explained. “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.'”

She added, “I was really unhappy, and it’s the film I am most proud of.”

From 2009 to 2013, Gainsbourg starred in four von Trier films, including “Antichrist,” “Melancholia,” and the two-part “porn film” “Nymphomaniac.”

“For me, there is a before Lars and an after Lars,” Gainsbourg said. “He taught me so much and different things with each film.”

As for “Antichrist,” she said, “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.'”

Von Trier announced he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease earlier this year ahead of the long-awaited Season 3 of his series “The Kingdom” premiering at 2022 Venice. The “House That Jack Built” director announced that he will “take a little break” from filmmaking to focus on his health.

“I certainly hope that my condition will be better,” von Trier said. “It’s a disease you can’t take away; you can work with the symptoms, though. I just have to get used to that I shake and not be shameful in front of people. And then continue, because what else should I do?”

He added, “That means that I had not lived up to the way I wanted to be as a director, because I was ill. And that’s a pity for the [‘The Kingdom Exodus’] actors, but I think they did OK.”

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