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Kirsten Dunst and John Hurt take part in a Q+A session at the UK premiere

30 September 2011

Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law (Kiefer Sutherland). Meanwhile, the planet, Melancholia, is heading towards Earth… MELANCHOLIA is a psychological disaster movie from director Lars von Trier.

Before the film screening Kirsten Dunst and John Hurt took part in a Q+A session to set the scene for the film, they talked about the musical influences and the great abutter Lars Von Trier…


I wanted to start by talking about Lars Von Trier, John this is your third time working with him and Kirsten this is your first, I was wondering if ou could talk about the making of Melancholia, because despite it being about some serious subjects, Lars described it as being the most understood while making the movie.

John Hurt: This is a first for me, having to talk about a film before anyone’s actually seen it, but you’re asking me to talk about Lars. When Lars asks you to be in a film you say when and where, you don’t say what’s the script or what’s it about, anything.

We’re dealing with I think one of the most perceptive and brilliant directors of our period and to be able to work with Lars is a complete privilege. I’ve had the opportunity to do the narration on Dogville and Mandalay, both of which I thought were extraordinary films in their own way, however this is a far bigger film altogether and a great deal of that is to do with Kirsten here. You asked me that question and it’s a pretty limp answer but I go with Lars because he is that kind of a man, and there are very few, I’d say it was a select company, but I’d go as far as say Jim Jarmusch is one of them, in the end you say can I fit it in but you don’t ask the question, you don’t say can I look at the script.


This time you are onscreen rather than narrating.

John Hurt: Well that happened because I had just finished Mandalay and I said you always ask me to do the narration but never on camera and he called my bluff and asked me to be Kirsten’s dad and I’m pleased.


How was the experience for you Kirsten, cause you’ve worked with auteurs before like Michel Gondry and Sofia Coppola, so how’s it working with Lars first time, we know it ca be tough?

Kirsten Dunst: I didn’t find it tough, I think we just got on really well and to me he was really open and vulnerable to me that I don’t think I could give a performance if I didn’t trust and feel safe with my director. You know some say Lars is torturous, but for me I found it the complete opposite, he was really sensitive and funny and one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with and I knew that, when I first found out that he wanted me to do this film I was jumping up and down like a teenager. To me Lars is one of the great authors of our time and on top of that writing these roes for women.


The visuals of the film are spectacular, Lars has said himself that he was  influenced by German Romanticism and the music of Wagner is featured throughout the film. Did Lars encourage you to seek out these artists?

Kirsten Dunst: We played Wagner on set, and we had the music with us, we had all the pain and references in the script, I went off after the film to meet my dad in Germany and we took a road trip together and we went to the castle where Wagner wrote all his music and put on all the operas, and it was fun to be there cause one of Lars’ sons is called Ludwig so it was a lasting thought in my Melancholia experience.

John Hurt: I can remember one scene where  I was dancing with one of the Betty’s and during the scene I passed Kiefer Sutherland and said ‘I don’t know what the f*** I’m doing’ and in a sense that’s part of it too.


Lars sees the ending as a happy ending, would you agree?

John Hurt: I’ve never known Lars to say something that wasn’t true, atlas in his own mind at the time of saying it.

Kirsten Dunst Photos | John Hurt Photos | Melancholia Film Page