Nicole Kidman: Lars used to always challenge me on that because I think she thinks she has an enormous amount of kindness but because of the extreme compassion, it's actually unkind. I think that is Lars exploring through Brechtian techniques philosophies on life. I'm drawn to directors that I consider to be philosophers and you can't always make films like that because they don't get the money a lot of the times and you've got to do them for almost nothing, and there's not very many scripts that are written with big ideas. Obviously Kubrick was one of the forerunners in that realm where his films are philosophical ideas. I think Lars runs in that vein as well.
Julie Rigg: I've talked to Lars a couple of times and he's a handful. What sort of things did he have you doing when you were making...I mean, we see you wearing a dog collar and chain on screen, but are his methods unconventional?
Nicole Kidman: No, not at all, which is what I'm drawn to because I think my whole quest as an actor is the adventure of it, is the experimentation and a lot of the times when I fail in films is when I try to conform, so part of me gives over to the idea that I just can't conform. A lot of the times the people around you want you to do commercial films because that somehow guarantees longevity, but ultimately I think you have to be true to what your nature is, and my nature is non-conformist. So with something like Dogville I'm very drawn to going and living in Sweden in a guest house with ten other actors and it's dark all the time and you're working with Lars von Trier and you work 10:00am until 4:00pm and that's it, but he keeps the camera running the whole time from the minute you step on the set.
Julie Rigg: I read an interview with Paul Bettany around the time it came out in which he said you two were introduced, Lars left you alone, and you started to talk and then you heard a noise on the balcony and he was crouched there eavesdropping.
Nicole Kidman: Shocking. And that was just the beginning. I think I tried to quit the film three times because he said, 'I want to tie you up and whip you, and that's not to be kind.' I was, like, what do mean? I've come all this way to rehearse with you, to work with you, and now you're telling me you want to tie me up and whip me? But that's Lars, and Lars takes his clothes off and stands there naked and you're like, 'Oh put your clothes back on Lars, please, let's just shoot the film.' but he's very, very raw and he's almost like a child in that he'll say and do anything. And we would have to eat dinner every night and most of the time that would end with me in tears because Lars would sit next to me and drink peach schnapps and get drunk and get abusive and I'd leave and...anyway, then we'd go to work the next morning. But I say this laughing...
Julie Rigg: I do now understand why you didn't do the sequel.
Nicole Kidman: I didn't do the sequel but I'm still very good friends with him, strangely enough, because I admire his honesty and I see him as an artist, and I say, my gosh, it's such a hard world now to have a unique voice, and he certainly has that, and he hasn't bent over to any of the mainstream approaches to filmmaking or money, and I admire it.