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FWD Interview

FWD NEW YORK OCTOBER 3, 2000 — With a kangaroo fur purse by her side, Icelandic superstar Björk sits in the Essex House hotel on Central Park South with a blue feather sticking out of a huge aqua bow atop her head—a fittingly kooky outfit for the quirky star of Lars von Trier’s “Dancer in the Dark,” which walked away with the Best Female Performance in Cannes in May. And now there’s Oscar buzz.

In the film, which also won the Palme d’Or, the 34-year-old Björk portrays Selma, a Czech factory worker living in rural America, who makes sinks on both her day and night shifts in order to earn enough money for her vision-impaired son’s eye operation. She’s also going blind.

There were plenty of problems on the set of this tear-jerker. Phoning in from Denmark, Von Trier stated : “Well, I think I can put it very precisely. Björk and I have very high ideals, the both of us. To have two idealists in the same room as you know is a big problem. So we had a lot of tension. I don’t think that she could go through it again.”

However, right now it’s the director who’s on pills (“I’m actually all right now, taking a lot of this Prozac stuff which is extremely good, I think”) and it’s the singer who’s released a new CD (the movie soundtrack, entitled “Selmasongs”) and has another one in the works.

When asked of the challenges in making her first movie musical, Björk’s mouth moves, but nothing comes out. Then after looking a bit perplexed, a pixie smile alights her face and she says, “Words. I think I’ve finished my vocabulary for a month now.” Then to herself : “C’mon, you can use those words !”

And then finally she says, “I think my challenge was more the acting thing because I did it from my instinct, my love for Selma, and from the emotional point of view. That’s the only way I could have done something like that. You know at first, I was only going to do the music. But after completing all the songs for “Dancer,” I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it. I’ll act in it, too. I will jump off the cliff and see what happens.’ ”

She continues, “I’m quite a brave person and close to foolhardy. So fear wasn’t the problem. The problem arose later on when I’d been filming every day for months, 12 hours a day and four nervous breakdowns a day. Then I’d come home in the evening to learn the crew had chopped up my tunes because they needed a song to be longer so five dancers would have time to run around a corner. They took out five bars that had taken me a month to do, and they glued them somewhere else.”

She lets out a deep groan and notes : “These people had never done music ever. They had just recorded footsteps their whole lives. But I had no contract, me and Lars, because I come from the punk school of thought. It was all based on trust. So I walked off the set and wrote a manifesto stating I want to do the final mix on my tracks. I want to decide what things go on the CD soundtrack.”

Her manifesto also stated that unless von Trier agreed to the terms, Björk would not complete the film. Von Trier, best known for his film “Breaking the Waves,” had no choice but to cave in. The result is stunning.

As for the former member of the hit group “The Sugarcubes,” who now has 15 albums behind her plus the one film : Does Björk’s recent announcement that she’ll never act again hold any water ? She seems to have rescinded that decision as she says, “I guess you really can’t plan that stuff, can you ?”

publié dans Fashion Wire Daily - 19.04.2001

 

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