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Sober Lars von Trier fears he can only do ‘shitty films’ now

‘There is no creative expression of artistic value that has ever been produced by ex-drunkards and ex-drug addicts.’

Lars von Trier has been notorious for pushing actresses to the brink and causing audiences to faint in their seats, but those days might be long behind him. Fresh from rehab, the Danish provocateur has just said that he fears his newfound sobriety means he can only make "shitty films" from now on.

"I don't know if I can make any more films and that worries me. There is no creative expression of artistic value that has ever been produced by ex-drunkards and ex-drug addicts," he told Politiken in his first interview in years. The director took a self-imposed vow of silence in 2011 after Cannes film festival organisers banned him for declaring that he had sympathy for Hitler at a Melancholia press conference.  

Von Trier admitted that most of his cinematic output was produced under the influence of drink and drugs. It took him 18 months to write the script for Nymphomaniac, the first film he made sober, while the Palme d'Or winning Dogville was finished during a 12-day drug binge.

"Obviously, the parallel world has its price, but I got an enormous amount out of it," Von Trier said. "Just like all the artists I have respected the most. They have also wallowed in all sorts of mind-expanding drugs."

The director said that he has been sober for 90 days and has been to his Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every day, although rehab clearly hasn't cured him of making sweepingly superficial statements. We can think of one or two ex-addicts who went on to good work – including Von Trier's own Nymphomaniac actor, Christian Slater, who faced alcoholism and addiction as a younger actor.