"Nymphomaniac" has been plagued by delays and false starts. Pushback from studios and lawyers forced von Trier to create two versions -- one filthy, one merely dirty. News of a real sexual encounter with LaBeouf also caused crippling setbacks to the production schedule. Actors originally courted for parts, such as Nicole Kidman, are now hesitating to commit.
"Shia is definitely no Tom Cruise," a representative from Kidman's camp told reporters. "And Nicole never actually had sex with Tom, so this is really a difficult position for her. She has to weigh her physical disgust and personal standards against her assessment of how this picture could benefit her career. Why they didn't approach Demi Moore is beyond us."
Kristen Stewart, who initially begged for the chance to star in a film where she could have sex with other actors, which "wouldn't count as adultery," dropped out entirely after learning of LaBeouf's involvement.
As a result, von Trier says he may resort to using body doubles for particular scenes. "It's either that or we try to get Scarlett Johansson drunk and bring her to the set. Even then, Scarlett does have some standards and we're not certain there's enough in the budget for the amount of alcohol we're talking about."
Producers considered Maggie Gyllenhaal but felt audiences would lose interest after watching two off-putting actors fumble through clumsy attempts at coitus on screen.
"At that point, it would be cheaper for people to download smut off the Internet," von Trier allegedly told his team. "This isn't some 'Brown Bunny' moment -- a cheap excuse for the director to get off with a beautiful actress -- this is art, and it's the whole picture."
Von Trier also continued to defend his vision of "Nymphomaniac" from being compared to professionally produced adult entertainment, which he called prurient: "This is not porn. Porn is a soap opera with bad dialog and carefully contrived, acrobatic sex. In my films, the sex is disappointingly real and the actors talk less. They're also quite weird looking."
After learning on Friday that body doubles would be performing the live sex scenes, Shia LaBeouf reportedly warned von Trier of his desire to withdraw from the project, having lost his best opportunity to shed his virginity.
Von Trier says he will complete "Nymphomaniac" but is already casting for his next film, "Oedipus Wrecks."
The concept imagines a modern telling of the Greek tragedy in which Oedipus, through a brutal series of predestined actions, unknowingly fulfills a prophecy to kill his father and marry his mother, thereby bringing ruin upon his city and family. Overwhelmed with the realization of his crimes, Oedipus blinds himself using a brooch from his dead wife-mother's dress. However, in von Trier's script, the ill-fated king mutilates his own testicles in an elaborate 30-minute sequence that involves a wood rasp, a ball-peen hammer, tile cutters, drain cleaner, poison ivy, mayonnaise, shoelaces and a glowing badger with devil horns. Throughout the scene, Oedipus must also continue to have sex with three women who spit in his face and weep at the same time.
The Oracle of Delphi will be portrayed jointly by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem DaFoe. They will appear always in a grunting act of coupling, delivering their prophecies in the form of spilled bodily fluids.
The rest of the screenplay chronicles the sexual relationship between Oedipus and his wife Jocasta, whom he later discovers to be his biological mother. The sex, von Trier assures audiences, will be completely unsimulated and performed by an actual mother and son acting duo to preserve the artistic integrity and inherent revulsion of the story. Charlie Sheen and Janet Templeton, his actress mother, have been confirmed by von Trier for the lead roles. The film is expected to be released early in 2014 pending settlement of a suit with Vivid Entertainment over accusations of copyright infringement.
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