“I don’t know if I can make any more films, and that worries me.”

Those are the words of Lars von Trier, speaking to Politiken (via The Guardian), and opening up for the first time about his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. The good news is that von Trier has managed to get clean. The bad news is that von Trier created all his best work when he was drunk or high, and now he’s concerned that he might not be able to continue on in his career without the assistance of substances. More, from von Trier:

“There is no creative expression of artistic value that has ever been produced by ex-drunkards and ex-drug-addicts. Who the hell would bother with a Rolling Stones without booze or with a Jimi Hendrix without heroin?”

In the past, von Trier would drink an entire bottle of vodka a day to “enter a ‘parallel world’ necessary for creation.” Without it, he fears that all he could make are “sh---y films.” His most recent work, ‘Nymphomaniac,’ was produced sober—but incredibly slowly; it took 18 months to write the screenplay. In contrast, the script for ‘Dogville’ was produced in a “12-day drug binge.” (Things go quicker when you don’t have to describe sets or locations because the entire movie is shot on a blank stage.)

It’s funny; just yesterday I was watching ‘History of the Eagles,’ and Joe Walsh was talking about the myth of the creative drug addict, and how he’d always idolized people like Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards, the exact same guys cited by von Trier. Walsh finally got sober when he realized most of his idols died before they reached the age of 30 (although Richards survived, stunningly and inexplicably). The great recent film ‘Whiplash’ is also about this subject: Is being a great artist worth sacrificing your mental and physical health

Personally, I’d say no. (That’s easy for me to say; I’m the one who gets to enjoy the art without the sacrifice.) Von Trier has battled depression over the years; hopefully he’s able to regain his confidence and find that creative spark without the crutch of substances (maybe he could make a movie about a sober artist trying to find the creative spark without the crutch of substances). It would be a shame to lose his voice. What a bummer; almost as much of a bummer as one of Lars von Trier’s movies.