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Kirsten Dunst, the 29-year-old actress who stars in Lars Von Trier’s new movie ‘Melancholia’, has revealed she and the director shared their own experiences of depression while working on the film. Speaking to reporters at the London premiere on Wednesday (28th September 2011), Dunst claimed hearing the controversial auteur’s experiences helped with her own struggles, reports the Independent.
The actress, who sought treatment for depression in 2008, explained, “Lars opened up to me about his experience with depression and that in turn helped me open up”. In ‘Melancholia’, Dunst plays a bride who is struggling to enjoy her wedding celebrations while at the same time planet Melancholia is heading towards earth. Von Trier courted controversy earlier this year when he was declared “persona non grata” by Cannes Film Festival bosses for claiming he could understand Adolf Hitler. Despite his notoriety, the actress revealed how much she enjoy working for Von Trier, saying, “I would have done anything with Lars. I adore working with him. There’s no one who’s communicated emotion so simply and effectively to me than Lars. And he’s funny and a joy to be around”.
Other stars to attend the premiere in Mayfair included veteran British actor John Hurt and Simon Pegg. Dunst’s co-star Alexander Skarsgard was absent.
All hail to Kirsten Dunst for giving two of cinema’s outstanding performances this year, one tragic, one comic – and for the same film.
The tragic one you’ll see this week – in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, Dunst plays a woman whose wedding is unfortunately scheduled just as the Earth is due to collide with another planet. It’s a remarkable performance – mercurial, intense, troubling – and it won Dunst the Best Actress award in Cannes this year. But she also deserves the prize for Best Straight Woman in a Farce, for Melancholia’s Cannes press conference, at which the Danish director confessed to understanding Hitler and joked about being a Nazi.
In fact, these assertions were part of a stream-of-consciousness ramble in which Von Trier also teased Dunst with a running gag about his next film. She and Melancholia co-star Charlotte Gainsbourg, he claimed, had badgered him into casting them in a four-hour porn movie, telling him: “We just want a lot of unpleasant sex.’” Dunst smiled gamely throughout, but when the Nazi remarks began, she chewed her lips in pained disbelief. Playing foil to a misfiring stand-up can’t be fun, but Dunst got in a mesmerising display of double takes, to the joy of thousands of YouTube users.
Hollywood names often shy away from controversy, but Dunst seems to enjoy the clouded response that Melancholia itself received in Cannes – it echoed her reception there with Sofia Coppola’s deliberately anachronistic Marie Antoinette, which largely mystified critics in 2006. The day after the Melancholia premiere in Cannes, I asked her whether she enjoyed hostile responses.
IN the first of two acclaimed performances by Kirsten Dunst at the 64th Cannes Film Festivalin May, a rapt audience watched as a dozen emotions — amusement, stoicism, distress, weariness, embarrassment and rue among them — played across her features in a scene in which she was required to maintain her composure at every moment and express an extraordinary range of feeling with almost no dialogue.
That particular tour de force was a one-time-only live show, the occasion being the news conference at which the depressive, eccentric Danish director Lars von Trier did his level best to torpedo the premiere of his latest film, “Melancholia,” in which Ms. Dunst stars. As he wandered into a tasteless rhetorical cul-de-sac about Nazis, Jews, Israel and his own ancestry, Ms. Dunst, seated next to him, looked on — although “looked on” doesn’t begin to cover what the blog FourFour, which posted an animated grid of her facial expressions, called the “extremely tense, wholly human experience” of “watching her negotiate her reality with what’s happening next to her.”
It’s a tribute to Ms. Dunst that the explosive reaction to the conference, which resulted in Mr. von Trier being declared persona non grata at Cannes, did not overshadow her work in the movie, which a few days later won her the festival’s best actress prize. (The film opens on Nov. 11.) It was a sweet victory for a performer who is still best known as Spider-Man’s girlfriend and whose previous accolades tended to be for things like best “lip lock” at the Teen Choice Awards.
Ms. Dunst, who seems to have been in our movie consciousness for ages but is still just 29, is happy to talk unguardedly about both Cannes performances. In a recent conversation at the Greenwich Hotel in TriBeCa, near her apartment, she giggled, and sighed, and shook her head, and said of the news conference: “My reaction was like a reaction to a friend who’s basically killing himself. I was so upset that he just kept going, trying to get to a place where there’d be a laugh. And I was also very aware that I was in a roomful of journalists, and that I couldn’t say anything, although I think at one point I did whisper to him, ‘Lars, shut up, this is terrible.’ And then I was also thinking ahead, imagining, you know, ‘Party Canceled,’ ‘Dinner Canceled,’ ‘Premiere Canceled.’ ”
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