October 18, 2011 - Bullett Magazine: ‘Melancholia’ Star Charlotte Gainsbourg: ‘Masturbating Was the Easy Part’
The last time Charlotte Gainsbourg worked with Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier, on 2009's Antichrist, she took home the best actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival for her portrayal of a grief-stricken mother who escapes into the woods with her husband following the death of their young boy. What followed were scenes of explicit sex, fierce hatred, and the type of bone-chilling torture normally reserved for Eli Roth and Tom Six. When it came out, the Guardian asked, "Antichrist: a work of genius or the sickest film in the history of cinema?" (It was both.)
Having so recently explored the darkest corridors of her psyche for that film, the 40-year-old Parisian actor and musician surprised us all when she signed on to star in von Trier's follow-up, Melancholia, the spectacular two-part saga of a family unraveling in the midst of apocalypse. As Claire, the sister of Kirsten Dunst's depressive bride, Gainsbourg plays a women on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Over tea inside New York's posh Crosby Street Hotel, Gainsbourg says laughing, "It might be time to do a romantic comedy."
Having already worked with Lars on Antichrist, were you more comfortable with him this time?
No, I wasn't that comfortable on this shoot. It was different. The first experience was so intense, and I had to go to such extremes, do things that I'd never done on camera before. There was no questioning how I felt—you just had to dare and trust him. With Melancholia, it was much more subtle, so it was difficult to find my character, to find my own space inside of that story. Lars never answers any questions, so you never know exactly what you're meant to do. [Laughs.]
When we spoke of Antichrist, no matter how creatively fulfilling it was, it sounded like you were put through the wringer. It didn't sound like a fun set.
But it was, because it was so exciting for me to be able to scream and to go wild. I remember texting my mother [singer and actor Jane Birkin] throughout the shoot because it was so fun to be able to tell her, This morning I was naked, we made love, and then I was in the forest howling. I had to make fun of what I was doing. It was important in order to be able to cope with it. In a weird way, it was fun.
But also emotionally exhausting.
The death of the child at the beginning of that film was really difficult. People always said, "Wasn't it hard being naked, masturbating?" But it was nothing compared to the death of the child. Masturbating was the easy part.
Presumably because you couldn't help but think about your own children.
I didn't want to go there with my own thoughts, with my own children, but it was tough not to.
On the set of Antichrist, Lars was so depressed that there were times he couldn't even lift the camera. Did you notice a big shift in his temperament when filming Melancholia?
I had never known him before, so I thought Lars was always the way he was when I saw him on Antichrist—in a bad state, shaking a lot, being ashamed of his condition. He was so frustrated by not being able to handle the camera. And then I saw him on Melancholia, and he was a different man. He was himself. He was saying how happy he felt. And, um… he wasn't drinking as much during this shoot, which made a huge difference.
It's interesting that you've had two very fulfilling film experiences with him given his reputation for being so difficult on his female stars.
But he's not!
Maybe so, but the myth that surrounds him must stem from somewhere.
I know that Björk had a very tough time. I heard a lot of stories about that. But apart from that, I haven't heard a lot of actresses complaining about what they went through. He empathizes with you. With Antichrist especially, he was so much a part of character. I needed his eye, and I also needed to portray him. That was my feeling.
Did you tap into that recognition for Melancholia?
For Melancholia, I felt that I was playing Willem Dafoe. Kirsten was playing Lars this time, because Lars is the sick one. [Laughs.] But, really. He sent me a text saying, "You can't always play me."
Kirsten was telling me that she's trying to convince him to travel by boat to America since he refuses to fly. I would have never thought he'd be willing to do that. My father [the late musician and actor Serge Gainsbourg] was like that, too. He needed to get completely drunk in order to get on a plane. Each time we would go from Paris to London, we would go by train. So I do understand that fear of flying, but with Lars, he won't even get in a car with you.
He refuses to ride with anyone?
Well, he has his caravan, and he has somebody driving it, but he's alone in it. He needs things his way.
He'll never sit next to someone in a car? That's insane.
We have shared a taxi together once, but I don't think he was very comfortable with that. He's not even comfortable on a train. [Laughs.]
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May 4, 2011 - Charlotte Gainsbourg to Release Double Album This Fall
Charlotte Gainsbourg stays busy, while zigging and zagging creatively.
When I spoke to her last year for an interview with Death and Taxes, the Guillaume Apollinaire-loving actress an chanteuse had just finished rounds of publicity for Lars Von Trier’s provocative Gothic film “Antichrist,” and was presently publicizing “IRM,” a collaboration with Beck which displayed what is most likely her best work musically (and Beck’s, for that matter).
Now Gainsbourg is once again in the vapor trail of a Von Trier film—this time the fantastic looking science fiction “Melancholia“—and about to release a double album “Live and Unreleased.” The latter will appear this fall on the record label Because. The album apparently is a collection of unreleased tracks and will be accompanied by a DVD documentary.
In anticipation of “Live and Unreleased,” Gainsbourg will be releasing a split 7″ with the band Villagers. Her contribution, the track “Memoir,” is a pretty folk song that contains both French and American influences.
Charlotte Gainsbourg had rarely ventured outside of European cities until her three months in the Queensland bush, writes Stephanie Bunbury.
IF THERE is an essential Parisian, that person is probably Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of the famously louche French singer Serge Gainsbourg and now a distinctive singer and actress herself. Intellectual, fey and intense all at the same time, she seems made to occupy a regular table in a smoky Left Bank cafe. In short, she is the last person you would expect to immerse herself in the Queensland bush.
As Dawn, a country wife in The Tree, the willowy Gainsbourg does seem at odds with her wild environment. Adapted from a novel by Australian author Judy Pascoe, The Tree is the story of a family recovering from the sudden loss of a beloved husband and father, a bereavement that is increasingly focused on the giant Moreton Bay fig tree next to their ramshackle farmhouse. Dawn takes to sleeping in the tree. Their daughter Simone, played by Morgana Davies, thinks her father’s spirit is inside it. Sometimes it seems as if the tree can speak.
Gainsbourg is not someone who sleeps in trees. She was intrigued by the character, but kept asking the French director, Julie Bertuccelli, why they couldn’t relocate the story to France and shoot in the woods outside Paris. When she got to Australia, she says, she felt ”nature shock”. She was afraid of snakes and worried about red-back spiders. But as soon as she saw the house and tree that were to be characters in the film, she understood why they had to travel so far.
”I’ve always been in cities and for the first time spending three months really in the middle of nowhere – well, it was very strong for that story,” she says. ”It’s very intense; when it rains, for instance, it’s not like rain in Europe. It’s a storm. We needed that. And being forced to have a relationship with nature in this film was very new as a discovery – and I like that process.” The fact that we feel her discomfort contributes, in fact, to the film’s unsettling eeriness.
Dawn is Australian in the book, but Bertuccelli could not find a suitable Australian actress so rewrote the character as an immigrant. Gainsbourg, whose mother was English actress Jane Birkin, speaks with a neutral but distinctly English accent. It is not unfamiliar for her; she has made several films in English, including Lars von Trier’s scandalous Antichrist for which she won the best actress award in Cannes.
”I think speaking English changes me,” she muses. ”It’s my second language – it’s the language of my mother, but not my mother tongue – and so it’s something outside me. That distance in my mind means I have a certain freedom. I dare more. I don’t judge myself, somehow.”
Dawn appealed to her, she says, because she is not coping; one suspects she has never coped very well with anything. ”The only thing that brings her back to life is her children. I liked the fact that she wasn’t a good mother; I like people’s faults.”
She has two children herself and they came with her to Queensland and went to the local school. ”That was quite funny for them, I think.
”We were three women – the producer, the director and me – on our own with our children and no men around, which, because of the story, did make sense.”
She also had her four film children, with whom she built a strong connection. ”We were a big group. We got to be very close, with my children in the middle of it. It was strange, in the end, leaving that behind.”
June 16, 2010 - Playing Dad: Charlotte Gainsbourg on the Role of Her Life
Charlotte Gainsbourg had no problem acting out the genital mutilation scenes in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist. She didn’t flinch at singing about incest with her father, Serge Gainsbourg on 1984′s “Lemon Incest,” when she was 13 years old. But when it came to the idea of portraying her late father on the big screen, she was taken aback.
“They asked me to play him [in the French biopic Gainsbourg Je T'aime… Moi Non Plus ],” the singer/actress says. “But I was incapable of doing this.” Wondering if the role could be therapeutic, she considered it for a month. She’d never been able to look at footage of her father, who died in 1991 of a heart attack, and playing him would require far more than that. “I thought maybe with the film, I could really stick my nose in it and face my fear,” she says. “I’d be able to finally look at images of him and listen to him. But I wasn’t ready. It’s just so raw to me.”
So Gainsbourg turned down playing Gainsbourg, decided not to see the finished film, and opted to conquer another fear instead: touring. “I was really nervous,” she says. “I didn’t know what it would be like.” She turned to Beck, who produced her third album, IRM, and got some moral support, as well as some practical advice on which musicians to select as her backing band and how to put together a road show. With that in hand, she kicked off a small American tour in April, and this week, she starts a month of dates in Europe.
“I can’t say that now I understand how a tour should go, because I haven’t understood a thing. But that’s what I enjoy about it, being surprised every night,” she says. “I still have a lot of fear about it, and I don’t think that will ever go away, but maybe that’s a good thing. It’s good to be nervous. It means I have adrenaline.”
After her tour ends in July, she starts on another Lars von Trier film, the much-kept-under-wraps Melancholia (“Should I be terrified?” she jokes). After she wrapped Antichrist, she “felt so weird” because she’d been in a state of crisis for two months straight, where “being hysterical and screaming became the norm” — recovering from that experience led her to shift musical gears on IRM. Gainsbourg has been assured, however, that this time around, her character will commit no sexual violence, and there will be “no screaming.”
Explaining her character is panicked because Earth is being threatened by another planet, she says this film is different. “Although the script is being changed since he’s still working on it, so I won’t know until I get there what my character will be like. So of course, I’m still nervous. I don’t know what to expect!”
Source, thanks to jennifervineyard for the heads up!
A brain hemorrhage caused by a water skiing accident nearly did her in, but actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg managed to pull through and channel the experiences from her recovery through her 2009 release, IRM, which gets its name from the French abbreviation for MRI (”imagerie par resonance magnetique”). While the critically acclaimed, Beck-produced album (he wrote the music as well) is a genre-hopping gathering of mostly energetic pop songs, Gainsbourg stripped it down for her enchanting in-studio performance at KEXP. Source, thanks to Gabriel for the heads up!
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