Kirsten Dunst single handedly tackles depression and the end of the world in the upcoming film Melancholia, directed by controversial director Lars Von Trier. She sat down with us recently to discuss her path in adopting such a dark role as well as possibly entering a new phase as an artist.
Check out the interview below.
QUESTION: The movie involves a character facing the end of the world. Does she know the end is coming?
Kirsten Dunst: 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 and I think that 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.
QUESTION: Does Lars think that depression is sort of an inevitability?
KD: 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.
QUESTION: You went through depression yourself, right?
KD: 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.
QUESTION: Was this film therapeutic in any way?
KD: Well, yeah. 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.
QUESTION: Given Von Trier’s reputation with actors, did you have any hesitation in taking this role?
KD: As soon as I read that email that said Lars wants to talk to you and read the script, I was ecstatic. These opportunities don’t come along very often. 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.
QUESTION: In what way was working with Lars different than other directors?
KD: I’ve worked with directors before where the camera is 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.
QUESTION: Was it a tough decision to do the nude scene of you laying in the moonlight?
KD: 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 and 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.
QUESTION: How was the sex scene on the golf course? It looked so awkward.
KD: 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.
QUESTION: When you work with a director that doesn’t do a lot of rehearsals, how does that affect your process?
KD: Every film set is a totally different energy. Being on Lars’ set is the best film school in the world.
QUESTION: With a role that’s so dark, is there a lightness when the cameras aren’t rolling?
KD: I was playing Angry Birds in my trailer (laughs). You’ve got to. You have to self-preserve. That’s part of it, too. You don’t have to sit there and be depressed to play depressed. Actually, you should be in a good place to play depressed, I think.
QUESTION: How was winning Best Actress at Cannes? There must be a chance for an Oscar, right?
KD: That would be awesome (laughs). Winning Cannes was pretty spectacular. I’m very grateful. If I was nominated, I would be very grateful and honored.
QUESTION: Do you think this role will signal a new phase in your acting?
KD: When you’re older, you have different opportunities, roles are different, and there’s more to do. When I found out I got this film, I was doing a film called Upside Down and I was playing the ingenue. It was very “Love Story”, but it was such a beautiful and crazy world that this director Juan Solanas creates that I wanted to be a part of it. But I still play the girlfriend. That’s what a lot of the female roles are, but hopefully, it’ll be an interesting movie.
QUESTION: Your 30th birthday is almost here. Do you think anything will change?
KD: You know, I had such a fun party last year. It was my grandma’s 90th birthday and we have the same birthday. So, I threw a really nice party at my mom’s house. My friends who are musicians came and a band played. So many different people getting on stage and singing. One of my ideas was take over that place Deetjens in Big Sur, have my friends in it and put on a fun show at the Henry Miller Library.
QUESTION: Did it seem weird having your character walking away from such a hunky guy?
KD: She was pretty stupid (laughs). I’m a big True Blood fan. When I met Alex, I said “You’re my favorite vampire on True Blood.” He’s a really great actor. Actually, he’s a really goofy guy in real life. He’s very sweet.
QUESTION: Did you notice any kind of dynamic working with his father?
KD: Between the two of them, they’re like brothers. They talk like they’re friends about everything, so it feels like a very “bro” relationship between them both. But Stellan is the man. He’s such an incredible actor. I love hanging out with him. Lars has a really good group that comes back every time. When you’re in the middle of nowhere, you really bond with everyone you’re working with.
QUESTION: What do you think about the new Spider-Man?
KD: I love Andrew Garfield and I think Emma Stone is cute, too. I think they’re going to be really cute in the movie. I think they’ll have good chemistry.
QUESTION: Would you come back in a cameo?
KD: I’d love to. I had the idea that if Toby and I were extras we would just walk by in the background.
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Kirsten for her time. Be sure to check out Melancholia, out now in theatres.