The Danish filmmaker stunned reporters when he made a joke about his German ancestry during a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival and he was subsequently declared persona non grata at the event, where he was promoting his latest movie Melancholia.
Dafoe befriended Von Trier while working together on 2009's Antichrist and the Spider-Man actor admits he wasn't as shocked as others by his old pal's antics - although he blames the media for turning the remarks into a huge scandal.
He tells WENN, "I like Lars. He can do stupid things; he can be a buffoon. I felt bad because I thought he had been set up to play that role of the provocateur, of the crazy one. And he plays it so he's a little bit of an actor that's been set up for a role and then when he does his job everybody acts shocked. If you saw the video, the reporting on it was so far from what I saw in the video that it blew my mind. He was joking around. The intention was totally missed; when you saw it in hard print with a little spin put on it, it sounded horrible. So I felt bad."
French police charged Von Trier with "justifying war crimes" last August (11), although prosecutors decided in December (11) not to pursue the case.
Von Trier had told Cannes reporters, "I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family was German... which gave me some pleasure. I understand Hitler. He certainly did some wrong things, but I can imagine him sitting in his bunker toward the end... Now how can I get out of this sentence. OK, I'm a Nazi."