Lars von Trier, Emily Watson, and Stellan Skarsgård on the set of Breaking the Waves.

I often think that many of my films come about by giving myself a task which could be… “Let’s do something funny, let’s do something sad or let’s do something in another way.” I’m forced to ask myself what I’d think was funny or what I’d think was sad or caused anxiety. The things I do that seem gruesome are things that would scare me.

At the moment I have loads of different phobias of various types. The instant I don’t turn my energies to the creative side, I turn it to thousands of anxiety inducing things. I find it difficult that, just in order to exist, I’m forced to… It puts a lot of artistic practice into a certain perspective if the whole thing doesn’t express an inner need which… to communicate something. Conversely, it’s an expression of survival.