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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex

Talking dirty with the cast of Nymphomaniac

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Stellan Skarsgård and Stacy Martin   
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Shia LaBeouf wasn't on hand in another bid to make the paper bag acceptable red-carpet attire, but last night's New York premiere of Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 at MoMA had plenty else going for it. To wit, nearly all of the film's other stars: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Uma Thurman, Stellan Skarsgård, Christian Slater, and Stacy Martin. Supporters like Emmy Rossum, Michael Shannon, and Kathleen Hanna turned out, too. Lars von Trier's latest flick offers an explicit look at one woman's sexual escapades from birth to age 50 (Vol. 1 takes us to her mid-20s). So unsurprisingly, the cast's primary task ended up being in-depth clarifications to eager members of the press about the mechanics of on-screen intercourse. Martin, 23 and plucked from obscurity for the title role, explained with a patience and poise that would give Grace Kelly a run for her money about porn doubles and prosthetic genitalia. Skarsgård offered up a few pragmatic words for the film's critics ("It treats sexuality like normal human behavior, which it is. Most of us have been there, done that") and pithily dismissed any comparisons to standard skin flicks: "You can't wank to this."

By the time guests trickled over to an after-bash at Butter's Midtown outpost, many of them were still in hot debate about whether or not certain acts were simulated. (A disclaimer in the film's credits vows that they were.) Others bemoaned a distinct lack of Willem Dafoe, who lent his best climax face to Nympho's posters but doesn't appear in the first installment. Once again, the film's stars offered a bit of clarity about what makes the subject matter work. "Lars doesn't do many rehearsals. If he does rehearsals, he captures those rare moments of illumination," Martin said. Slater concurred: "The most difficult thing is finding directors you feel comfortable and safe enough with to work with, that you want to take those chances for. Lars is that guy."

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