For her first ever film, Stacy Martin plays a young Charlotte Gainsbourg in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac; coming this Christmas.
Up-and-coming actress Stacy Martin has been busy, travelling across a daydream continent of French fashion house fantasy and hardcore Danish cinema. It all started in London, where we photographed her playing vintage dress-up in Chanel’s secret showroom; then on to Paris, where we filmed her watching Karl Lagerfeld’s grand visions come to life in the Grand Palais; then Copenhagen, where she took her boyfriend to watch her lustful turn in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (out on Christmas day!); and now, back in London, she’s driven her Honda C90 pizza bike across town to talk to us. Read her stories below, and watch our day in the life of Stacy in Paris right here.
So you’re just back from Copenhagen…
I went to see my movie. Well I’ve seen it already but I went with my boyfriend so he could see it before it comes out and the craziness starts. I really want people to see it now because there’s so many expectations… it’ll be interesting to see how people react because I don’t think they’re expecting the right thing. Not in a bad way at all, but Lars has done a really good job so it’s going be a good present to watch.
Are you still in touch with Lars now?
I guess, here and there. We don’t email every day, but we’ll say hi, and if I’m in Copenhagen then I’ll pop by and say hello. Yeah, I suppose he’s a friend?
What’s he like then, Lars von Trier? Do you pop round his house for a cup of tea?
I’ve never been to his house; I’d like to see his house actually, it would be really interesting. But he’s great, he’s very intelligent and he’s not at all as mean as people think; he’s not the devil. He’s just a really talented person, and people assimilate talent with, “Ah well, he’s talented so he has to have problems, he has to be difficult to work with.” No. It’s quite inspiring actually to work with that kind of knowledge and that kind of work ethic, for me.
What was it like when you first met him?
I was terrified, or maybe I was just really nervous. It was sort of my first audition, my first big audition, and I hadn’t slept because I was taking an early plane to Copenhagen. Once I was there I was like a zombie, functioning without really realising what I was doing; so I was in that state of mind, and I got into this little room, and he was just there sitting very quietly… I was so aware of how much I was talking without wanting to talk, and I was thinking, “Okay Stacy stop talking, stop talking, stop talking!” It was really weird and at some point I just stopped, I was like, “Okay, I’m embarrassing, I’ll just leave the room now it’s fine, I can go home and forget this experience ever happened.” But no. We continued on to the actual scenes and he was very calm and, it sounds insane, but it was just easy to be there after all my babbling. Sometimes you feel like you have to talk so much, especially if it’s someone that you admire, you think, “Oh I’m so sorry I’m making such a fool of myself, I’m going to stop,” but you don’t stop.
I do that a lot. It’s sort of my job to do that though.
Yeah? Silence is a difficult one I think, it makes people very uncomfortable. Lars is great at silences, he masters them.
What was it like on set?
The first few days were strange and exciting as well, but nerve-wracking because Lars just comes on set and says hi and sits down and doesn’t tell you what to do. So for experienced actors it’s great, but for me I really had to embrace it. After day two I was like, “Oh it’s fine,” but it’s quite shocking at first because you think a director is going to tell you what to do. Lars just says, “You can start in the bathroom, you can start in the bedroom, you can start outside…” Suddenly you have this ability to do anything, you can present him with anything, and it’s quite freeing but at first it’s quite scary.
What did your boyfriend think of the film?
I think, yeah, I think he really liked it, he was really excited. And I was just so relieved because, you know, some of it is pretty intense so I was sort of apprehensive. He saw the script and he came on set with us so it’s not like he was completely unaware of what it was, but there’s always a difference between imagining things and seeing them on screen... We really like Lars’ work and we’ve always watched Lars’ films, but there’s this weird thing when you’re an actor, the sorts of situations you put other people in! Like, you go away for three months and have this family on set, and then you come home and say, ‘I’ve missed you but, oh the best experience of my life has just ended.’ They have to deal with all of that and, I dunno, I think it’s a hard one.
On which note, I heard that you had a porn double on set. How did they find her?
I’ve no idea, I mean, how do you find a porn double? I had one, and she was called Cindy. Or so she says. She could have been called something else for what I know, but she called herself Cindy… I think we needed to have like the same height and the same sort of body shape but, apart from that, I’m a bit afraid to know. It’s just quite nice to say that, once in a life time, I had a porn double. Called Cindy.
So were you on set together?
Yes! We would alternate, so, usually the porn doubles would do their scenes first because they needed to find their positions and the framing and so on, and then we would arrive on set and have to recreate exactly what they did; we’d have all these sort of dots and it was like, you know, “Move your head to the right, okay, now open your mouth…” Then we’d switch, so I would see her when we did the switch over and I’d be like, “Okay, have fun!” At those moments the energy completely shifted on set, because it’s kind of just this porn set then, basically. I forgot that one day and I was there talking to someone, I looked around and they were just doing what porn stars do when they’re preparing to perform… and you know everyone else was acting completely normal and adjusting lighting and so on, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t stay, this is too much!’ Yeah, it was just weird.
Weird is a good word for it.