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How Kirsten Dunst, Daniel Brühl Got Cast in Ruben Östlund’s New Film

How Kirsten Dunst, Daniel Brühl Got Cast in Ruben Östlund’s New Film

Kirsten Dunst said she “sobbed like a happy child at Disneyland” when Ruben Östlund cast her to star in The Entertainment System Is Down, the Swedish director’s follow-up to the Oscar-nominated The Triangle of Sadness. “Who doesn’t want to work with Ruben?” the Civil War actress said, speaking at a press event for the film in Cannes.

Dunst will play a woman caught on a long flight with her husband (German star Daniel Brühl) when the onboard entertainment system fails, forcing the passengers to deal with their own boredom, with darkly comedic results.

“I’m pretty sure that if we took away entertainment from our society, the divorce rate would go up very drastically,” said Östlund, “that’s part of what we’re going to investigate.”

Dunst said she got the role after sending Östlund an improv scene involving her as the bored woman trying to unlock her husband’s phone while he is asleep on the flight.

“It turns out she doesn’t have the code, so she tries to unlock it with face ID,” said Östlund, recalling the scene. “But he has his mouth open. So she has to very carefully close his mouth. She manages to unlock the phone. And then, of course, finds out he’s been having affairs with younger women, so they are going to deal with this during this ride.”

For Daniel Brühl the key to getting cast in Östlund’s new film was getting himself, and the director, very drunk. After meeting Östlund at an event in Cannes a few years ago, Brühl invited him to a barbeque at his home on Majorca.

“I got the best wine, the best fish,” recalled Brühl, “and I was preparing all the clever things that I could say to this great auteur. [Then] within a second, I lost all my restraints, and we had the most wonderful conversation. Along the way, Ruben said: ‘Maybe you could be in my film.’”

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“Daniel got very drunk and started to open up about his family life,” corrected Östlund, who said it was the German actor’s emotional honesty that convinced him he was right for the role. “It was really like, no, bullshit, you know? Because we all know what it’s like to be in a relationship, when even if you love somebody, the struggles that come with that,” he said, “we were able to talk as human beings and say ‘seriously, let’s cut the bullshit.’”

Keanu Reeves is also set to star in The Entertainment System is Down, which will shoot in a retired Boeing 747 aircraft the production company has bought especially for the film. Entertainment System will mark Östlund’s third English-language film after Triangle and The Square, both of which won Cannes’ Palme d’Or. Östlund said Entertainment System will be ready for Cannes 2026.

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