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Cannes 2011

Cannes 2011

Stellan Skarsgard on Lars von Trier

The Sunday Times Culture blog

May 2011

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Cannes 2011: Stellan Skarsgård on Lars von Trier

A longtime friend and collaborator of Lars von Trier’s, starring in his Cannes competition entry, Melancholia, the Swedish actor responds to the film-maker’s foot-in-mouth “I’m a Nazi” gaffe and the festival’s harsh response, writes Matt Mueller.

What were you thinking when you saw this train wreck happening next to you yesterday?
Well, I knew that most of the journalists in the room took it for what it was worth — he’s joking. But I also knew that when people start printing, any tone of irony will be lost. Everybody knows that Lars is not a Nazi, not an anti-semite. He was a Jew until he was 33. So it’s absolutely ridiculous, all the emotions that have been set into motion.

Should the film festival be above declaring him “persona non grata”?
I think the film festival should show more spine than that. Just because the winds are blowing, doesn’t mean they should get on the train. If there is a special code of what subjects you can joke about at the film festival, they should publish it.

Is Lars’s humour just too out there for the mainstream?
I think it would have been much worse if he actually was a Nazi.

On the subject of Melancholia, if you knew the world was going to end, how would you spend your last day?
Hopefully I’d be in bed with a beautiful woman and I would come the moment that the Earth explodes. That would impress her.

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