Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Broad Green Enters Long-Term Home Video Deal with Universal for Burgeoning Slate Broad Green Enters Long-Term Home Video Deal with Universal for Burgeoning Slate Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Watch 'SPECTRE' Trailer: James Bond Meets the Author of His Pain Watch 'SPECTRE' Trailer: James Bond Meets the Author of His Pain 'BoJack Horseman,' 'Rick and Morty,' and Our Love/Hate Relationship with TV 'BoJack Horseman,' 'Rick and Morty,' and Our Love/Hate Relationship with TV Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) First Look at Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as a Gay Couple in 'Freeheld' First Look at Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as a Gay Couple in 'Freeheld' Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Cannes Actress Winner Dunst Forgives "Melancholia" Director Von Trier, Heads for Red Light Winter with Ruffalo

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 16, 2011 at 9:23PM

This year at Cannes, the person who squirmed sitting next to Lars von Trier at his notorious "Melancholia" Cannes press conference, during which the Danish writer-director offended just about everybody by calling himself a Nazi, was his star, Kirsten Dunst.  In the days to follow he apologized repeatedly for the "stupid, idiotic" comments that led to his banishment from the festival.
2
Lars von Trier and Kirsten Dunst at Cannes
Lars von Trier and Kirsten Dunst at Cannes

This year at Cannes, the person who squirmed sitting next to Lars von Trier at his notorious "Melancholia" Cannes press conference, during which the Danish writer-director offended just about everybody by calling himself a Nazi, was his star, Kirsten Dunst.  In the days to follow he apologized repeatedly for the "stupid, idiotic" comments that led to his banishment from the festival.

But he also had to repair the damage he had done to his relationship with Dunst.  "It was probably harder on her than anyone else," Von Trier told me the night he was going to meet her for a makeup dinner.

Putting balm on the wound was the closing night ceremony, when Dunst gratefully accepted the best actress Palme, thanking the festival for allowing "Melancholia" to stay in competition. Afterwards she said that she should not have been punished for von Trier's "inappropriate" comments. Nor should she. "Melancholia" starts off with Dunst's lavish castle wedding, destroyed by the beautiful bride's plunge into depression, followed by how she and her family deal with a planet hurtling toward a possible collision with Earth. "Melancholia" might have had a shot at the Palme d'Or won by "The Tree of Life" had it not been overshadowed by von Trier's misbehavior. (More details on the film and a sampling of reviews are here.)

By the time of our video interview below, Dunst, who had already weathered a Cannes controversy with Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette," had clearly forgiven her director. She was sorry to have missed a celebratory party, and clearly has learned to measure her words carefully with the media. After all, she's been working in high-profile films since 1994's "Interview with the Vampire" at age 12. And she's happy to carry the promo load on "Melancholia"--as Von Trier has refused to give any more interviews. "Maybe that's not a bad thing," she says, laughing.

Working with Von Trier, contrary to previous reports, was "not difficult," she says. Both had experienced depression; he opened up to her and earned her trust, she sys: "I couldn't feel so vulnerable if I didn't feel taken care of by Lars."

Dunst admits that she got off easy on this one, compared to what Charlotte Gainsbourg had to do on "Anti-Christ." She worried about her parents seeing her magnificient nude display, but her father told her it was "artistic." "Only Lars and Pedro Almodovar write these incredible, messy roles for women," she says. Even the department heads on the film were women: "He needs nurturing." She would happily work with Von trier again--along with Almodovar and Michael Haneke.

While she has been heading in an indie direction since leaving the "Spider-Man" franchise, "I'm not an indie intense person at all," she insists. In fact, she's now shooting a dark indie comedy with Isla Fisher, "Bachelorette," based on rookie director Leslye Hedland's play. "We've lightened it," she says. In January Dunst starts another indie adapted from the stage, Adam Rapp's bleak drama "Red Light Winter, " which the NYT called "a frank, graphic story of erotic fixation and the havoc it can wreak on sensitive souls." The movie will co-star Mark Ruffalo and Billy Crudup. Sounds intense and indie, if you ask me.

This article is related to: Awards, Oscars, Kirsten Dunst, Interviews


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.