How does it feel?It’s very overwhelming for me. I think that’s a healthy sign. But Joachim wanted my input about the character — if I wanted to add something, the process was free and open. It’s a wonderful situation, someone in love. He is on the way to dinner with his mother, but agrees to sit down and talk.]

We were talking about Julie’s sexuality and the article that she writes. But also taboo. Throwing a tampon into someone’s face! I ruined the film. I think it’s just really liberating that Julie actually gets to do that in an epic scene, to actually live out her daydream. Joachim and I, we feel that women’s sexuality is often portrayed very submissively. It’s cheeky.Right. So we spent a lot of days together, and it was so much fun. It wasn’t before. There’s that brief flashback to Julie’s ancestors, the oldest of whom died in her 30s, which was the life expectancy for women at that time.Yeah, yeah! We were trying to find a softer word for “aggressive.”RR: We talked about how it’s true that women are much more liberated than we used to see in the movies. So here I am. Those things combined — and I’d done a lot of light humor stuff and a lot of Russian, hard theater — made him think I was good for this part. We were this group of new friends just partying. Am I ready? “Someone is daring to show this in a climate that’s very cautious.” The joy of a woman experiencing passion. I’m sure you know, but the attention is making her very nervous.RR: I was like, “You’ll discover that I’m … not [talented].”

JT: This is my fifth film, and I’ve worked with some gifted people, and every time there’s this sense of impostor syndrome. It was a big coordination, for a few days. It’s easy now. They know that sitting with your legs open and doing this is fragile and vulnerable. Did you guys talk about it that way?No, we didn’t. That [she felt like] life is chaos. Did you anticipate the level of attention that Renate is getting?JT: To be frank, I knew. What was wonderful about working with you [Renate], is that you’re very confident [about] where your limits are — what you will and won’t do — and you take charge of things when you shoot. But eventually, you have to accept that everything is a mess and you fuck up your choices all the time. Then Joachim and I would meet here and there and talk about the same themes: love and life, that it was all chaos, it never went the way we wanted it to go. She can’t find her identity, and she struggles to find it through work and who she’s with. It was like, “Okay, we have it. You’re filled with so much impression, but you’re so driven by individual ambition. The extras would stand frozen, and I would run through them. I would study the script hard, and talk to him a lot about the character. I was naked, but I had covered up my [gestures below]. What was your first reaction to reading the scene where she rips out her tampon and flings it at her father?I did like a [gasps dramatically]. I think that’s maybe what’s closest to me. Oslo is small. Menstruation should be something that’s not to be embarrassed about. I just saw another good review, and then I just puked. You’re getting all of this press attention very suddenly, with everyone here saying you’re going to be this big star. But it’s very Joachim Trier–esque, as we say. The rest of the reviews are gonna be, ‘It’s a great movie, but the lead, she destroyed the film.’” I was really nervous about the press conference. Confident?Yeah, or liberated. Back then, they just had to make a choice and [lived with it] for ten years and it was over. Things won’t go the way you think it’s gonna go. As a man, I’m aware there are so many cliches around the way that we film sex. I feel so close to her. We were so aligned on the existential thoughts of it all. Some of the reviews are calling The Worst Person in the World a rom-com. Her not having kids isn’t a big thing, because so many people say that now. How did you accomplish that scene? But the script was already good and the role was so good, there wasn’t much to add. She hasn’t figured out who she is yet. A star is born”; elsewhere, she’s “sparkling,” “vibrant,” and “dazzling.” Just halfway into the fest, there’s already buzz that she’s a shoo-in to win the festival’s Best Actress award. Being flawed and making a fool of yourself half the time is okay. But once we started filming, it was all about letting go. Her performance (and that tampon scene) is grabbing attention. Everyone is. But it’s a lot more vibrant and lovable and light. What made you puke and cry?Well, I read the review where the line said, “A star is born,” in the Guardian. Bye.” Everyone on set was so respectful. Did you notice right away when reading the script that Julie felt like you?Yes. I know you were in Oslo, August 31st, but how did you first meet Joachim and when did you start collaborating on this movie?In that film, in that scene, I had one line: “Let’s go to the party.” It had to be filmed in nine days, though, because of the lighting. People are enjoying that aspect. Ten years passed by, and she did incredible work in the theater, but nobody really offered her the lead role in movies. But I was so moved and relieved by how accurately they wrote a female character of this time. Have I found my full potential yet, or can you even do that? The 33-year-old Norwegian actress is the star of Joachim Trier’s latest, The Worst Person in the World, a funny and poignant 12-chapter rom-dram (or rom-com, depending on your perspective) that follows four years in the life of Julie, a charming, bright Oslo woman flitting between jobs and relationships, trying desperately to figure out what her life should look like. And that she doesn’t know what she wants. I was like, “Hmmm, this is my life.”We wanted people to be liberated by the idea that life is chaos. You’re mortal, and living now — things change all the time. But that was shocking to read. Dominant?Yeah, she’s dominant —

[Joachim Trier walks up to the table and asks Reinsve how she survived his DJ set from the night before. How did that work?Well, it’s two men [co-writer Eskil Vogt and Trier] writing a female character. She’s written like me. When she bites Eivind’s ass. I feel a little nausea all the time. We had to bring that vibe to the set. But we both can relate to that: When is it right? You’re both Julie.JT: We’re both Julie. The year of the tampon —In the face. We have too much time. The funny story is that Renate played a small part in Oslo, as I’m sure you know, with one line of dialogue. What was it about Renate that made you build a whole film around her?JT: I had Stephen Frears as a teacher, and he put into prominence people like Daniel Day-Lewis and Uma Thurman. I still hear from people who are like, “I was there.” So we had to run in, stand still, do the scene, run out, wait for traffic. It’s horrible. There’s a chapter of the film where Julie writes a short story or sort of viral essay called “Oral Sex in the Age of Me Too,” about enjoying getting “mouth-fucked,” which was sort of her Carrie from Sex and the City moment. I want to ask about some of the most memorable scenes in the movie. I think every person on earth has had that fantasy at one point or another. This is when it appears. I think having that many choices — you can change your career tomorrow, if you want. But I also feel a bit proud, if I may say, that it turned out the way I hoped. I’m hearing that a lot of people connect to Julie and the things she goes through. There are so many extras, just completely frozen, all across the city.They wanted to do it old-school, so there’s no CGI. I was so scared of disappointing him. It’s how she thinks about herself, and I can relate to that. We wanted it to be more like what we’ve experienced. And today I woke up and I cried. Looking every bit the Cannes starlet in a navy-blue Louis Vuitton minidress on the patio at Le Grand Hôtel Cannes, she talked about what it’s been like to be on the receiving end of sudden attention (among other things, it made her puke) and, of course, that tampon scene. This idea that you make a choice among many and can’t take things back. I want to be free and talk freely about things.” But I also know that can be seen as controversial today, because the climate around female sexuality from social media and pornography is becoming very regressive. It’s a generational thing. That’s where I’m at and it was refreshing to see the characters talk about it. I’m kind of relieved. This is the moment. And it’s done humorously, like when you bite Eivind’s ass. Sorry, I’m getting academic. She’s very sincere and true to herself. And he wrote it specifically for you, thinking about you and basing the character on you. There was no audition, right? I really did. That was important. It’s so hard to navigate in that chaos. It’s full of surprisingly weird moments, like a scene wherein Julie trips on mushrooms and hallucinates herself ripping out a tampon and hurling it at her absentee dad. And you helped shape the character, right? We’re privileged in so many ways. At some points, she’s sexually aggressive. It’s a connection to death, for Joachim. One day I woke up and I puked. Were people shocked by the sexual content in this movie?JT: No, rather the opposite. Do you feel that way, or have you passed the Julie phase of your life?That’s a good question, because Joachim knew me so well, through all of our conversations. Julie discovers that not making a choice is also a choice, and suddenly it’s too late for her. So I was brought up as — the main thing you do as a director is casting. That’s what I’m discovering. I do. Or was that specific to the character?We didn’t talk about that specifically, no. Is it called prude? But there are some sides to her that … she falls in love with [her boyfriend] Aksel, but she almost needs him to define her. In the middle of our interview, Trier himself made an appearance to explain what it is about Reinsve that made him want to center an entire film around her. More From France

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Tags: You’ve never been the lead of a film before, right? For Eivind [another one of Julie’s boyfriends], it’s the climate crisis. And that makes it really hard to make choices that are right. The police had cut off one of the busiest streets at the busiest time, so everyone was so angry. I was very nervous reading the script for the first time, and Joachim was nervous for me reading it. 2021. [He leaves.]

Let’s talk about the mushroom scene before you go. We’d talk about, “Should we make it a bit different?” But I always landed on being me. I’m sorry I didn’t offer you more. It’s definitely one of the first rom-coms, or however you want to refer to it, that deals directly with this idea of deciding not to have kids due to climate change. I don’t know. The critics here can’t get enough of her: The Guardian proclaimed, “She’s just so good. For them, it’s not about gender, but writing a whole person with flaws. It’s melancholy. “Shit, that happened.”

Tell me about how this all came together. Was The Worst Person in the World always the title?Not from the beginning, but in Norway we have this saying — if you fuck up, you say, “Ugh, I’m the worst person in the world.” So it comes from this catchy phrase. You never know in the world of film. And it shouldn’t be! Apparently, in The Souvenir Part II, there’s another “menstrual blood on the face” scene. Find the right actor for the right role. The film seems to gesture at the idea that part of the problem is that we live so long now. It’s the first leading role for Reinsve, a theater actress and Dakota Johnson doppelgänger who had a single line of dialogue in Trier’s Oslo, August 31st back in 2011. Photo: M2 Films

Renate Reinsve is having the sort of breakout Cannes Film Festival moment that might be dramatized in a Cannes film. I’m trying to find a way to show a female gaze. RR: You have that a little bit as well. You push me. We did two takes, because on the second take it just hit him right in the face. You were so nervous about not giving me good enough direction. Not deciding about anything before filming the scene. I read it the night before, but I woke up and I was like, “Oh no. Trier wrote The Worst Person in the World specifically with Reinsve in mind; I caught up with her a couple of days after the film’s premiere. Are we having some kind of moment?Really? But what I did discover was her talent. I love the moment when Julie pauses time and runs across Oslo to meet Eivind while she’s still with Aksel. But, probably when I get home and land, it’ll be okay. You often feel like the worst person in the world?Oh, yeah. A female character who’s that — how do you say a softer word than aggressive? The Norwegian actress leads Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World. And her name is Julie, too. JT: Maybe this is a Scandinavian thing, but I grew up in a feminist household. As a 30-something woman trying desperately to figure out what my life should look like, I too loved Trier’s film and Reinsve’s effervescent performance. I can see how that might be a good descriptor for it, though it gets pretty heavy. It was perfect. No, no, never. I wrote this film for her. All of his themes are still there, and he asks the same questions, and he talks about those deep existential questions, but it’s done in a totally different way. Talk me through the filming.They had this little capsule that they put a tampon with blood in. She’s where she’s at, without having control over it. Did you guys discuss that moment as a sort of alternate reality for her, or just a fantasy?I think it’s a visual conceptualization of — sometimes you just wish that you could have gaps beside reality to live out the potential of a meeting. He knew I’d been through all of that: searching with my thoughts, my style, my boyfriends, everything. For me, it’s not a paradox that Julie says, “Fuck it. Today, two places it was written, “This might be the best film of Cannes.”

Now, having a few days to digest all of that, do you feel any better?No. Losing control. On set, we laid a good foundation of scene analysis. But we can do whatever we want, whenever we want. That’s ultimately why she needs to leave, because he’s kind of in control of that relationship. Very “I couldn’t help but wonder …” The thing with Julie is that she is sexually liberated. I remember talking to someone who was a part of the ’70s feminist movement, saying, “Even though the world seems more modern, there’s an aggression towards the female body now, in a way that’s harder than it was in the ’70s.” A modern feminist can sometimes have that more restricted, controlled approach to talking about sexuality. What I really related to with her was this terror she has about the permanence of her choices. The Worst Person in the World is a quirky, bittersweet take on a world with far too many options that’s also falling apart. So I took it out. Do you and Joachim feel that way? But it was really fun. Not aggressive, but how do you say it in English? I thought, Dammit, she’ll be a star soon. Maybe I’m a prude or something. Did you and Joachim speak about that sort of fear?Yeah. Why be prudish about that? So he didn’t really know what I’d do for this specific role. Thanks to Reinsve’s natural levity, the film manages to engage with topics like climate change and existential angst and the Me Too movement without losing its sense of humor. It was so cool.