As Lars von Trier’s newest production The House That Jack Built begins shooting in Sweden this week, the provocative Danish helmer held his first press conference since his infamous Nazi outburst incident in Cannes 2011, after which he was declared “persona non grata” by festival organizers.
Speaking in a village hall earlier this week joined by Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman, a rather nervous von Trier spoke to reporters about the casting process of his new title, The Guardian and Danish broadcaster DR report. “There were so many people we sent the script to who said they would do anything to work with me … except this script,” he quipped. “And then there were two who said yes, and I asked, ‘Are you sure?’ and they said, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ I think we should make a little test of their reading abilities.”
After Sweden, filming on The House That Jack Built moves to Copenhagen in May. The story follows highly intelligent Jack (Dillon) over a span of 12 years, introducing five incidents along the way that define his development as a serial killer. Told from Jack’s point of view, he sees each murder as an artwork in itself, even though his dysfunction gives him problems in the outside world and an inevitable police intervention draws closer and closer.
Never one who enjoys the limelight, von Trier told DR that being on set again made him anxious and that House That Jack Built potentially could be his last time in the director’s chair. “I feel like sh*t,” he said. “I have so much anxiety. I think I’m getting too old for this. Just to work on the set and rush around with some actors, even though they are very sweet, it is a challenge of dimensions. I don’t think I can make any more films after this one.”
At the news conference, von Trier also hinted there was a plan to unveil The House That Jack Built at an event in 2018 saying, “I have talked to the people I know in Cannes and … yeah, maybe.”
It’s clearly too early to draw any conclusions; the lineup for Cannes’ 2017 event is still underway, never mind 2018. Von Trier has yet to return to Cannes following his remarks at a press conference for Melancholia, where he said he “sympathized” with Hitler.
Von Trier had been a Cannes darling until the controversial event in 2011. He won the Palme d’Or in 2000 for his musical Dancer In The Dark and also the Grand Jury Prize in 1996 for Breaking The Waves. Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg won Best Actress at the festival for their respective roles in Melancholia and Antichrist. Bjork also won Cannes Best Actress for Dancer In The Dark.
Since the Cannes hubbub, he appeared via computer screen in Venice in 2014 and at the Berlin Film Festival that year sporting a “Persona Non Grata” T-shirt for the world premiere of the director’s cut of Nymphomaniac Vol. 1.