The Billy Elliot actor has regaled us with some key moments from the set of Nymphomaniac - out this weekend on a strictly limited basis in the U.K
If Jamie Bell’s account is anything to go by, working with Lars Von Trier is a truly unforgettable experience. The young British actor has recounted the Danish director’s strange directing techniques with The Guardian in an interview, and they involve meeting him, totally naked (Von Trier, not Bell) and smacking Charlotte Gainsbourg with pleasantries skipped.
Jamie Bell, pictured far right, plays 'K' in Nymphomaniac.
"I'd just got to Copenhagen to begin shooting. Thomas was showing me around: 'We built this set here, this is where the production design room is.' Then we had to walk past this outdoor pool and there was Lars with a towel in his hand,” explained bell. “He dropped the towel, he shook my hand – he was stark bollock-naked – and he said, 'Do you want to come for a swim?' And I said, 'I'm all right man, I just got here, I've still got my suitcase, so I'll wait.'"
Nymphomaniac tells the story of Gainsbourg’s character, Joe, who – having been found in an alleyway, battered and bruised – is nurtured back to full health by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård). The film sees self-diagnosed nymphomaniac Joe recount her life. "It was intense, it was scary," he says. "I felt out of my depth a lot, I felt like I wasn't doing a good job,” added Bell on working on the controversial, 4.5hour film, which has been split in to two volumes – both of which are released tomorrow (Saturday Feb 22) in the U.K as part of a feature length one-day special.
“I hadn't said hello to Charlotte Gainsbourg before I started hitting her in the face. I didn't even say hello to her. I really didn't, I swear to God, I didn't say a word to Charlotte Gainsbourg the entire time we were making that film,” Bell revealed. “When they said, 'OK everyone, this was Jamie's last day, he's wrapped, that's him done on Nymphomaniac,' and everyone gives a little round of applause, in my very short goodbye speech I said, 'Charlotte, I have no idea who you are but I'm sure you're a lovely person. Maybe I'll see you another time.' I literally hadn't said anything else to her."
Whatever Von Trier’s strange methods evoke inside of you, they certainly seem to be effective: Nymphomaniac has been well received by the critics, accumulating a highly impressive 96% on Rotten Tomatoes.