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The last time I sat down with Kirsten Dunst, the 29-year-old actor had just returned to Los Angeles from Denmark, where she’d been filming Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, a two-part drama about the end of the world and the (unrelated) unraveling of a bride on her wedding night. It was October 2010, and Dunst was promoting the criminally underrated crime drama All Good Things. In the year that’s since passed, she’s released two films, filmed two others (Bachelorette, On The Road), bagged a bunch of trophies (including the Best Actress prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival), written a fairytale, and starred—with a lion—in a Bulgari campaign. Over cigarettes in a suite at New York’s Crosby Street Hotel, Dunst opens up about working with Alexander Skarsgård, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and von Trier, who might be even more inscrutable than people think.

BULLETT: When we last spoke almost a year ago, you pretty much refused to tell me anything about this movie.

KIRSTEN DUNST: I was afraid to! If someone told Lars that I’d said something, he’s the type of person who would probably be like, “I can’t believe you said that about me!” I was nervous about letting anything out because I didn’t want to be on anyone’s bad side during press.

In light of what’s happened, I really don’t think you need to worry about what you’re saying. [Laughter.] Lars has the tendency to write pieces of himself into his stories, and he shares your character’s struggle with depression. Did it ever feel as if you were playing a version of him?

He was never like, “You’re playing me so do this.” But he did write the story, and it is about his experience. I didn’t know how specific to his life the events were in the script, but in Cannes his wife said that watching me in certain scenes absolutely broke her. There were certain parts that she’d actually experienced and seeing me go through it in the movie, she said, “That was Lars.” I knew he suffered from depression, but I didn’t know to what extent. When I first met him, he was shaking like crazy.

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