The actress was sitting beside the Scandinavian moviemaker at a Cannes press conference in France when he stunned reporters by rambling on about his German heritage and declaring he could “understand” Hitler.
Von Trier was subsequently kicked out of Cannes and all launch events surrounding his new film were scrapped.
The director has since become the subject of an investigation regarding a possible violation of a French law against justification of war crimes.
He has also announced he will never give another interview or make a public statement as a result of the fall-out from his controversial remarks.
But his latest leading lady, who picked up a Best Actress prize at Cannes for her work in the acclaimed film, is standing by the director, insisting he was simply trying to respond to a journalist’s inappropriate question with a joke.
Appearing on Tuesday’s (08Nov11) Ellen DeGeneres Show in America, Dunst explained, “He tried to make a joke because the journalist asked him an inappropriate question about his mother and their relationship and what happened when she died.
“He was like, ‘Well, she told me that my father, who I thought was my father, wasn’t my father, basically – and this other guy was.’ But how he explained it was, ‘I thought he was Jewish, but…’ He tried to make a joke… and it just kind of spiralled (out of control)… I tried to stop him as much as I could.”
The actress has since seen footage from the awkward press conference and admits her response to Von Trier’s remarks are definitely worth watching: “Everyone can YouTube it. My face is pretty funny… every emotion possible.”