Lead actress : new names, vets vie (extrait)

Variety, 15 janvier 2001

Lars von Trier’s leading ladies have a winning way with anguishing roles.

Emily Watson was showered with accolades for her tragically stoic perf in von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves.” And with his latest opus, “Dancer in the Dark,” first-time thesp Björk has already amassed numerous honors—including best actress at the Cannes Intl. Film Festival—for her portrayal of an overworked, near- blind Czech emigrant.

The Icelandic songstress originally signed on to compose the musically driven “Dancer,” but ended up being wooed by the Danish helmer to also play Selma, a single mother logging overtime in a sheet-metal factory to pay for her young son’s operation that will save him the encroaching blindness she faces. Along the way, Selma is hit with one injustice after another, ending up on death row.

Because she’d been working on the music for some time before taking the role, Björk already knew where she wanted to go with Selma.

“I was swirling around this character like a satellite,” she says. “I knew all the pain places that she went to. Lars told me many times I was going too far.”

Björk likens her three years of seclusion for the film to “crossing Antarctica.” After the pic wrapped Björk says she cocooned herself for nine months before emerging back into society. Her first stop : Cannes.

Making the experience a bit more surreal than normal were the whispers that Björk had been personally tormented by her character’s tribulations as well as by the idiosyncratic von Trier.

“It is definitely the most painful thing I have done,” Björk admits about making the film. “Because I am not an actress I knew the only way to do this was to jump into the deep end : I had to become her.”

But Björk dismisses the rumor that she and von Trier did major battle.

“It didn’t come from Lars or me,” she says of the highly publicized rift gossip. “I think the Danish marketing people (have a reputation for) creating a scandal. We definitely had our problems and dealt with them— the fact that the film exists proves that.”

publié dans Variety