Written by Connie | Posted on 19 November 2011| 0

Sisters confront each other in the face of  a possible apocalypse in Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. Kirsten Dunst stars as Justine,  a young woman struggling with depression. Kirsten recently took a few moments to discuss the film, her own bout with the disease and the next phase in her acting career. 


EXAMINER: The movie involves a character facing the end of the world. Does she know the end is coming?

KIRSTEN: I don’t think that Justine knows the end of the world is coming when she’s at her wedding. I think that there’s something she senses, but I don’t think that’s what makes her depressed. I think that she’s gone through this a few times in her life. The wedding and the pressure of getting married and realizing that this man isn’t who she wants to be with is making her depressed. There’s something else she’s longing for that’s not in her realm.


EXAMINER: Does Lars think that depression is sort of an inevitability?

KIRSTEN: No, I don’t think so. Lars has spoken openly about his depression. There are scenes in this movie that are verbatim what Lars went through, but I wouldn’t say that. He talked about his depression, but he’s not an over talker.


EXAMINER: You went depression yourself, right?

KIRSTEN: Yeah, I did, but it’s not something that I even wanted to talk about. It just kind of had to come out, because other people were talking about it. But it’s not something I would talk about anymore.

EXAMINER: Did it help you relate to the character?

KIRSTEN: Yes. I’ve always used my own personal emotions and things that I’ve gone through in my life to build a character.  The work that I do before a film feels almost like therapy, between me and whoever I’m playing.


EXAMINER: Was this film therapeutic in any way?

KIRSTEN: Yes. You don’t have an opportunity to do roles like this very often. At the end, it definitely feels cathartic. It should. All movies that I do, I feel like I got to release sides of myself. The last film I did was a comedy and I got to play a real mean girl. I get so uncomfortable. It was so difficult for me to think where that comes from, but then you bring those things outside of yourself. It’s fun to express those things. It’s part of why I like what I do.


EXAMINER: Given Von Trier’s reputation with actors, did you have any hesitation in taking this role?

KIRSTEN: As soon as I read that email that said Lars wants to talk to you and read the script, I was ecstatic.  He’s one of the great auteurs of our time and it’s like a month of shooting. How bad can it be? I’m pretty tough. I’ve dealt with plenty of directors at this point. I wasn’t afraid.


EXAMINER: Was it like Bjork writing a letter to Nicole Kidman saying don’t do this movie?

KIRSTEN: But Bjork is a genius artist herself and when you get two together… She’s an incredible musician and they had to collaborate on the film. I can’t imagine Lars collaborating with anybody else. It’s his world, so there’s going to be friction and that made sense to me. And it’s the first and only time she acted, so who knows. Lars also goes through different states of how he’s doing. I know on Antichrist, he was in kind of a dark place. Charlotte was like “We were filming in Germany in the middle of nowhere, the food was terrible and Lars couldn’t hold the camera. He was shaking so much and not in a great place.”   In Melancholia, he was in a really great place, she said. I talked to her about it, but I agreed to do the film before.


EXAMINER: Did you know that Penelope Cruz was supposed to do the role?

KIRSTEN: Yes, of course. I knew about it and already thanked her in the press (laughs). I definitely would thank her if I saw her.


EXAMINER: In what way was working with Lars different than other directors?

KIRSTEN: I’ve worked with directors before where the camera’s moving, following you, but Lars is really pared down. We don’t even rehearse the scenes. We just start shooting. It could be a scene in this room and there’s not much light. You figure out everything. It’s not really so planned at all. I guess this is the most unplanned movie that I’ve been on in terms of how we shoot.


EXAMINER: Was that improvised or was the dialogue in the script?

KIRSTEN:  The dialogue was in the script for the most part. In the beginning, some of my scenes with Alexander were a little improvised.


EXAMINER: Was it a tough decision to do the scene of you laying in the moonlight? Was it hard doing the nude scene?

KIRSTEN: I knew that I wasn’t going to be in a Lars Von Trier film  and get away without doing a nude scene. Hey, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it in a Von Trier film. Why not? It looked so pretty. I knew the context it would be in, so it wasn’t a surprise to me. Not that it’s the most fun thing to do, but we joke about it and they close the set and they make it comfortable.


EXAMINER: How was the sex scene on the golf course? It looked so awkward.

KIRSTEN: Lars doesn’t tell you at all how we’re going to do the scene, so I didn’t know if it was going to be very graphic. It says Justine basically rapes this kid. So, I was like “Oh my god”. I was so nervous in the trailer. Me and Brady, who is now my friend, who was in the movie with me were like “How is he going to shoot this? Is it going to be really close? Am I going to take my wedding dress off?” Then, we get to the set. The camera is so far away and everything’s being shot from this really long distance. I was like “Thank god”, but that was the most nerve-wracking for me just because it’s so awkward. I dont know how  I’m going to phase into sex scenes as an adult, because I also had one to do not long ago. It’s so awkward. It’s the worst. I hate them.


EXAMINER: Your mother in the movie says she doesn’t believe in marriage. Do you?

KIRSTEN: Oh yeah. I want to get married.


EXAMINER: And is that way you imagine wedding like in the film?

KIRSTEN: No. I would not have a strapless dress. I’m actually in bridal mode right now. My best friend’s getting married and I’m the maid of honor.


EXAMINER: Are you really hands-on in being the maid of honor?

KIRSTEN: I’m a good maid of honor. I’m a good assistant. That’s why I don’t have an assistant, because I’m so on it that no one can be as on it as me. I know that. I’ll be a great maid of honor. I’ve already found a bunch of dresses online for her, bridesmaids and everything.