Bjork hasn't caught the acting bug

Thursday, September 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK ­ Bjork is content to be a one-hit wonder ­ as a movie actress.

The eclectic pop singer, who has sold 7 million copies of her solo CDs, says she always intended that her starring role in Dancer in the Dark would be a one-shot deal.

That's not because of her already legendary clashes with director Lars von Trier, Bjork says in the sometimes tentative, lilting voice that is a hybrid of her native Iceland and several years in Britain ­ a kind of Danish cockney.

"The reason I don't want to act is not because of this film, that it was difficult or something like that. I felt like that before the film," she says. "I made an exception and decided to act once. ... But I think I should stick to music. I feel pretty loyal to music."

Bjork, who won the best actress award at this year's Cannes Film Festival, thinks too many people are "fiddling" with too many things ­ and she doesn't want to be one of those dilettantes.

"I think there are too many dentists who want to be race-car drivers, and too many race-car drivers want to be dentists."

So she's returning to her first and abiding love, feeling a little unfaithful.

"There were periods in this film when I felt like I was having an affair from music, that I felt dirty," she says. "Because music has always been the place that sorts me out. Everything can go horribly wrong, but there's always music."

The 34-year-old singer is recording a new album, due out next spring, and is happy to be working again with people she calls "like-minded" ­ "so you don't have to go from A to Z about how you feel about the big issues in life, because you kind of know."

"You can just go straight to the jokes," she says, with a little laugh.

The chuckle is a bit rueful because she and Mr. Von Trier sometimes were anything but like-minded while making Dancer in the Dark, which took the best film prize at Cannes and opens in Dallas on Sept. 29.

It's true Bjork walked off the set for a few days during filming. But it wasn't a matter of a temperamental diva throwing a hissy fit and sniffing, "I'll be in my trailer." She did it as the film's composer; her music was being changed without her being consulted.

She and Mr. Von Trier didn't have a contract ­ "everything was done on this sort of old punk ethic, based on trust" ­ and she was upset that the music was getting chopped up and changed.

So she wrote a "manifesto," demanding final say over the movie's music. The Danish director, who had made a splash with Breaking the Waves, relented and signed it.

Bjork initially was just going to do the music for Dancer in the Dark, but then she read the script and fell in love with the main character, Selma.

A Czech immigrant working at a kitchen-sink factory, Selma is going blind from a congenital condition. She's scrimping to save cash for an operation to keep her 12-year-old son from the same fate.

"I felt strongly about protecting her, because I thought I knew her pretty well," Bjork says. "We've got a lot of things in common."

In the movie, Selma is violently, fatalistically protective of her boy; in real life, Bjork once knocked down and kicked a television reporter who stuck a microphone into her then-11-year-old son's face.

Selma and Bjork both like to escape into their own heads and enjoy the music they imagine, and both are introverts. Bjork thinks the movie makes a statement about introverts, who she thinks are misunderstood. "We're so self-sufficient and so euphoric on our own that we don't need a lot of the things that the common world has to offer," she says.

Bjork says she has a musician's attitude ­ one she characterizes as "most selfish" ­ toward the polarized, love-it-or-hate-it reaction the movie is getting.

"I'm only going to do what I love doing. If people like it, great; if they don't, too bad."