Shia LaBeouf’s Not Really Gettin’ Busy in Upcoming ‘Nymphomaniac’

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

So how much Shia LaBeouf are you going to see in Lars Von Trier's upcoming "Nymphomaniac"? Short answer: Less than he said you would, but more than you might want.

LaBeouf is one of several major stars who have signed on to appear in "Nymphomaniac," the next feature from the perennially controversial art-house troublemaker Von Trier. (Other stars include Uma Thurman, Christian Slater, Willem Dafoe, and Stellan Skarsgard; French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg will play the leading role.) The story follows the life of a woman struggling with sex addiction, and both Von Trier and LaBeouf previously promised that the sex in the movie would be the real deal.

"It is Lars von Trier, making a movie about what he's making," LaBeouf told a reporter in the summer of 2012, when he signed on for the project. "For instance, there's a disclaimer at the top of the script that basically says we're doing it for real. Everything that is illegal, we'll shoot in blurred images. Other than that, everything is happening."

However, for folks who were eagerly awaiting the chance to see the star of "Transformers" rounding the bases, there's bad news from the film's producer, Louise Vesth. Vesth has announced that while the lovemaking in the movie is real, that doesn't mean you'll be seeing the stars doing it themselves.

"We shot the actors pretending to have sex and then had the body doubles who really did have sex and in post we will digitally combine the two," Vesth said. "So above the waist it will be the star and the below the waist it will be the doubles."

[Related: Lars Von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac’ Comes on Christmas Day]

Vesth opted not to speak about the casting process for finding the guy who plays Shia LaBeouf's nether regions. Though if you're really determined to see LaBeouf reveal The Full Monty, you might look for the uncut video for the song "Fjogur Piano" by the Icelandic art rock band Sigur Ros, shows LaBeouf revealing his full glory (or shame, depending on your point of view).

The digital trickery that allows the cast of "Nymphomaniac" to look like they're getting busy without actual business on their part is cited as one of the main reasons the movie was not completed in time for screening at this year's Cannes Film Festival, though Von Trier's presence at Cannes might be a tricky matter.

In 2011, while appearing at the festival with his film "Melancholia," Von Trier spoke at a press event where he said, "I understand Hitler, but I think he did some wrong things, yes, absolutely. But I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end. He’s not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him, and I sympathize with him a little bit." Just in case there was anyone Von Trier hadn't offended, he added, "I am very much for Jews. No, not too much, because Israel is a pain in the ass."

To no one's surprise, Von Trier was declared "persona non grata" at Cannes, and the director himself declared a moratorium on speaking to the press. This year, Thierry Fremaux, creative director for the Cannes Film Festival, said that while Von Trier was banned for 2011, that was never meant to last a lifetime. "We didn’t see his film because it wasn’t ready," Fremaux said of "Nymphomaniac." "The day he has a film ready in time for Cannes we will talk about him again." However, Von Trier still isn’t talking to reporters, possibly a wise move on his part, and has sent Vesth to the 2013 festival as his spokesperson.

Vesth has also revealed that when "Nymphomaniac" goes into international release this coming December, it will be available in two versions: a softcore cut (think those movies that play late at night on Cinemax) and a fully explicit edition (like the movies your older brother unsuccessfully tried to hide from your parents).