It’s long been reported that controversial Danish director Lars von Trier would have the top tier cast of his upcoming movie, the two-part Nymphomaniac, engage in unsimulated, on-screen sex. The film, which stars von Trier favourite Charlotte Gainsbourg alongside Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf and Uma Thurman, picked up a lot press late last summer when LaBeouf revealed the director’s plan to have his stars engage in actual, really-for-real sex acts. But the latest news is that the film will now feature—for example—Uma on top, and a professional pornographic stand-in on the bottom. By which I mean that the actors will do all the waist-up acting, and the stand-ins will do the below the belt sex-ing.
Producers for the film are in Cannes talking up Nymphomaniac on the director’s behalf (von Trier was banned from the film fest in 2011 when he made an extremely off-colour joke about being able to “understand” Adolf Hitler) and they’re contradicting what LaBeouf said about the film last year. The actor told MTV that “There’s a disclaimer at the top of the [Nymphomaniac] script that basically says, we’re all doing it for real. And everything that is illegal, we’ll shoot in blurred images, but other than that, everything is happening,” he said, adding “It’s going to be a wild movie.” (So wild, in fact, that LaBeouf’s longtime girlfriend allegedly dumped him over the role.)
But Louise Vesth, a producer on the film, told The Hollywood Reporter that that wasn’t quite the way things turned out. “We shot the actors pretending to have sex and then had the body doubles, who really did have sex, and in post we will digital-impose the two,” she said. “So above the waist it will be the star and the below the waist it will be the doubles.”
The process of digitally combining the images has extended the post-production phase of the film which is partly why, says THR, the movie didn’t screen at Cannes. Instead, there are plans to release the film in Denmark on Christmas Day (probably giving that Anchorman sequel a real run for its money).