Q: Why is sex still such a complicated thing to tackle on film?
A: I’ve thought a lot about women in movies and sex and sex scenes. The question is why, if half of the adult population is women who have sex, why is it difficult to see? I personally think this doesn’t necessarily account for this movie, but the most interesting sex scenes that I’ve done or seen are the ones that are truthful from a women’s perspective — instead of what I think everybody got used to in the ’80s and ’90s: put on a black Victoria’s Secret demi bra and be lit perfectly and arch your back. That’s supposed to look like sex. But that doesn’t look like sex for most people, and if it does, I think you’re probably missing out on a lot. The more truthful you can be, the sexier it is and the more uncomfortable it can make you sitting next to a stranger in a movie theater.
Q: As an actress, do you look for roles that are more honest about sex?
A: Someone was talking to me about a film-school character trope, these women in their 20s, quirky, happy-go-lucky, don’t-need-anything kind of girl — that romantic comedy fantasy. But the problem with that fantasy — and I’ve been offered so many parts like that — mostly those women don’t have a lot of need. So you see a man kind of go, “This woman doesn’t care what I do.” I think everybody has great need and that’s so complicated. If somebody needs you, if you need them, all of a sudden you’re going to have responsibility and that’s part of what’s so scary about sex to begin with.
…Q: What about these scenes makes them work or not?
A: There’s been such a history of sex scenes that don’t speak to me at all. So when you have the opportunity to do a sex scene and still be a real, thinking person in the midst of it, it can be an incredible way of expressing something about who you’re playing and something about the story. Sex on screen can be one of the most compelling ways of telling a story. Not if you stop acting — I think a lot of people stop acting and start pretending that they’re in a soft-core porn. But the women who don’t I get so interested in. It’s something we don’t talk a lot about in our culture and all of sudden there’s a comparable experience, like I had sex in this way and it felt disappointing and lonely or I’ve had sex in this way and experienced a connection I never could have felt any other way. That’s where I get really interested. Even if you’re talking to your friends, are you getting into the absolute deepest intimacies of it? Maybe, but to see someone act it well, it can make you feel like you have a connection to other human beings.
Wonderful insights. Move sex is often plastic and boring. By the numbers. You rarely see people have sex that is dissatisfying–unless it’s being done for laughs. I recently saw “Friends with Benefits” on TV and the sex scenes, between two attractive movie stars, were lifeless. They were filled with quick dialogue that was supposed to be witty and showed off the actor’s sculpted figures, but there was nothing erotic or sensual or credible about any of it.