Interview with Stellan on Dogville DVD

How did you react to Lars ideas for Dogville?

I was very positive. His ideas are always new and imaginative. "How we are going to try this?" he says. And you feel enthusiastic at once.

You were sure it would work?

Yes, but ...obviously it would. It was not easy. But my faith in Lars is immense.

Did it mean anything that it was Trier who was behind the project?

Yes, I mean a great deal. When you read his films, you see that they can turn out magnificent. But they need a director who can create his own universe. He can. When I read Breaking the Waves, I knew not many could.

Where was the challenge for you in that concept?

I did not regard it as a challenge. For me it's s a pleasure to come and play with Lars. I did not think "Now I have to act a part, what am I going to do?" I play a bit with Lars and it turns out well.

But it was not like your usual films?

No, it was not. It was quite different. I know Lars, but it was harder for the others actors who had to work a completely new way, with no control in their parts, but have to deliver lots of diversions of their scenes, trying different things all the time, always vulnerable. At first some of them were panicked. But as soon as you get into it and say, "Lars will fix it, let's play and see what happens," something else emerges. But to me it held no terrors.

Did you feel you had to make things easier for the others?

You mean the way they send a castrated bull into the ring to pacify the others. I'm Lars's castrated bull.

Very good. I heard you helped things.

I don't know . It depends on a good atmosphere on set. I want everyone to be able to work together. It's a collective job. It has to be fun for everyone, or you might as well do something else. I always try to create a good, social mood.

You've worked with Lars several times. What was it like?

As I say, I don't regard it as a work. I mean you don't get paid. I see it as playing with Lars. Such fun that you don't need paying. It's fun.

What kind of film can viewers expect?

It's....It's special.When I read the script, I felt it was already a finished work of art. He could have published it as a book. But he adds infinitely more when he films it. But he writes like a slightly perverse Hans Christian Andersen. There is a saga feel to it . As usually with Lars, it's a crual fantastic saga about people doing each other harm.

It is not a cheerful film?

I don't thik it's gloomy. One of the positive things about it is that there are no evil people and no good people. Everyone is good or evil. That's very positive. Films that divide us into good or evil are more frightening.

But I think one senses a tendency to gloom in the film.

There is a lot of darkness. A kind of " entertaining darkness". It is also very funny. I laugh a lot when I watch it.

Do you know the danish expression "unleasing your inner swinedog"?

Swinedog? What's that?

Selfishness.  Exploitation. All our bad sides. Swinedog? Isn't that what this is?

The swinedog is in the film, yes. "Unleasing our inner swinedog". You have got a lot of good expressions in danish.

Trier actually operated the camera. You could look him in the eyes.

When you film under such free conditions, you can tell him if something is badly written, and he replies right away. It's really good having him so close. I want the director as close as possible when I shoot a scene. I'd have liked him to be in front of the camera, but that's hard. The director is often miles from the cast, watching a tiny monitor. He does not see what happens. That's really sad.

You're from Scandinavia. Lars is from Scandinavia. What was it like having a woman from Hollywood who needed to learn our customs and traditions?

Nicole is a courageous and intelligent woman. Obviously there was a culture gap in some ways. We are not only Scandinavian, we are specially Scandinavian. And that's a bit different. She got into very well. She could be Scandinavian too, with a bit of work.

But it was not two worlds meeting?

No. I've worked a lot with different actors from different countries . Actors are a nation in themselves. Boundaries between actors are not as great as those between nations.

Will you be in his next film?

I've got to be. There's not a part for me, but I can walk on.