Poor Things Director Calls Sex Scenes ‘Important’ and ‘Intrinsic’ to the Movie

Poor Things Director Calls Sex Scenes ‘Important’ and ‘Intrinsic’ to the Movie

preview for Poor Things - Official Teaser (Searchlight Pictures UK)

From the queer sex of Red, White & Royal Blue and Fellow Travelers to the period sex of Fair Play to whatever the hell that was in Saltburn, 2023 has been a vintage year for sex scenes on screen. And Poor Things, the latest baroque comedy from auteur Yorgos Lanthimos is no different.

Based on the novel by Alasdair Gray, Poor Things stars Emma Stone as Bella Baxter, a woman who has been brought to life, Frankenstein-style, by her creator Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Defoe), and whose journey we follow as she matures from an uncoordinated, childlike waif to a woman exploring her own ambitions and desires. Once Bella reaches her own version of adulthood and discovers sex, that becomes a huge part of the movie—she even has a short stint as a sex worker.

Coming after a whole slew of discourse online around whether or not sex scenes are relevant to the plot of movies, Poor Things is sure to stoke up that same conversation. But director Lanthimos doesn’t care.

“It’s weird, isn’t it? Why is there no sex in movies?” he said after a screening at the Venice Film Festival. “First of all, it was an intrinsic part of the novel itself — her freedom about everything, including sexuality. And secondly, it was very important for me to not make a film which was going to be prude because that would be completely betraying the main character.”

emma stone, poor things

Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

Intimacy coordinator Elle McAlpine was also present on set to work with all of the actors during their sex scenes, and Stone says her input was “wonderful.”

“She really made the energy so calm and professional,” she told the New York Times. “But it was weird ultimately to see the movie because doing those scenes was such an intimate experience and then I was like, ‘Right, that’s in the movie!’ But I mean, that’s Bella. She has no shame about her body and her sexuality and who she is, and I am so proud of that aspect of the film.”

Mark Ruffalo, who appears in the movie as Bella’s love interest Duncan Wedderburn, has also said that having an intimacy coordinator there helped the performers to be “conscious and present” during the scene, but joked to USA Today that he might be coming towards the end of the sex-on-screen portion of his career.

“At 56, I don’t know how many more of these I got in me where I want to take my clothes off,” he said. “Stuff’s starting to move around and sag faster than I can fix it. So this might be the end of that.”

Headshot of Philip Ellis

Philip Ellis

Philip Ellis is News Editor at Men’s Health, covering fitness, pop culture, sex and relationships, and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV, and he is the author of Love & Other Scams.

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *