Part II (click here for Part I)
Examiner Dorri Olds: Had you heard about Lars’s track record of what he puts actors through?
Christian Slater: People have different experiences with Lars. It’s the same thing about his movies. People either love them or are scared by them or completely the opposite. He’s just that type of personality. From the first moment I met him I loved how sweet he was. To me he was sweet and funny and he’s definitely got an ironic sense of humor. We would shoot these scenes and they were all very intense and very actory and he would let all the moments happen and then he’d come in at the end and say, “Well, you’ll probably never work again.” If you’re at all insecure and you don’t get it you’ll be very freaked out by that but I just said, “Ok, Buddy, that was hilarious.” I would laugh at these things and try not to take it seriously. I’ve been in other situations where directors come in and say, “That was amazing. Oh God, we got something really special,” and then you see it later and it’s awful. This was the opposite of that.
I worked on “Time Machine: Part 2” which was very fun. I had a great time doing that. Those guys, Craig and Steve and Rob. It was a wonderful experience and I think I’m working on this film with Ed Harris next. After working with Lars and having this experience and moving things in a particular direction you do get kind of addicted to it. You want to work with artists who are willing to take chances and do creative projects — push the envelope sort of stuff. So doing this with Lars was very exciting.
Did you enjoy the soundtrack, including that Talking Heads song?
Lars has got great taste in music. For me, music has carried me through different times in my life. I’ve had themes that I’ve listened to. I don’t know if I have a specific taste. Even listening to Beyonce sing “Survivor” is good for me. I get into it. Billy Joel, Frank Sinatra, I kind of find one that I like and stick to it and it goes in a loop in my head.
When you were starting out in your career can you think of any times you were terrified?
Oh yeah, I grew up in New York and I was just a kid goofing around really in this business. I did some theater and had great experiences there and loved it. I remember being really excited about getting the job at Radio City for the Christmas Spectacular and I thought, that’s it, I’ve made it. Then I went and got this job, “In the Name of the Rose” where I was playing this 13th Century monk who had an explicit love scene in that film and I was like 15 so I remember being scared in that moment, and working with Sean Connery, that was intimidating. I was just this kid from Manhattan thrust into this wearing a robe and shaving my head. It was weird and exciting but crazy.
Despite “Nymphomaniac” being a very jarring film, there were tender moments.
Yeah, when I looked at it I thought the loss of her father, this relationship that was actually appropriate, and honest and someone that she really trusted — losing that person creates a deep well and void in her character and I think she spends a lot of time trying to recapture those feelings.
Can you imagine how you would’ve felt with a daughter like that?
Boy, oh boy. I have a daughter whose 12 and she’s obsessed with One Direction and it’s frustrating.
It was surprising to hear you were going to play a father in a role.
I know, right? Thank god for Lars. I get to finally be a man. [Laughs]
Magnolia Pictures will release “Nymphomaniac: Volume 1” will open in theaters March 21, 2014. It is now available on iTunes and On Demand.