Shia LaBeouf
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

BERLIN — Danish director Lars von Trier may be persona non grata in Cannes, but he was clearly missed at the press conference for “Nymphomaniac – Volume 1″ at the Berlin Film Festival on Sunday.

But the maverick helmer was in the German capital, and appeared at the film’s photo call in a black T-shirt with the Cannes logo on it, and the words “Persona non grata” emblazoned beneath.

During the press conference, the helmer’s modus operandi was very much the focus of all the actors’ comments.

“I’ve never been on a film where the director was so in command of every department,” said Christian Slater. “He has such soul.. a very kind heart.”

“It is not challenging at all to work with him,” said von Trier regular Stellan Skarsgard. “It is easier, and more fun.”

SEE MORE: Shia LaBeouf Wears Paper Bag on Head to ‘Nymphomaniac’ Berlin Premiere

“Lars kept telling me that I was over-acting, but that is nothing new,” said Uma Thurman, who said she was given a script with a seven-page monologue. “We kept doing these 25 minute takes all day. It was unbelievably lively, refreshing, and like acting almost in the theater or acting for the first time in a film.”

“Lars creates great conversations, great dialogue about subjects we may not always feel comfortable with,” said the film’s first-time actress, Stacy Martin.

The hero-worshipping must have been too much for the tortured, slovenly-dressed Shia Laboeuf (he sported a filthy truckers’ cap, a hoodie and purple socks).

“When seagulls follow the trawler it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea,” stated LaBeouf enigmatically, before abruptly walking off stage 10 minutes into the conference.

“The second part is slower, goes more to the heart of Lars’ theme, it is more explicit,” said Louise Vesth, the film’s producer. She ducked questions about when the second, longer version will get a festival screening, but did not deny that it might show up in Cannes in May.

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