It drives me mad how liberal people are about violence and prudish about sexuality: Lanthimos

Critics have described his latest film 'Poor Things' as a weird sex comedy. The filmmaker says incorporating intimate scenes was "never an issue" for him

Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos with actor Emma Stone (photo: @stonesdaily/X)
Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos with actor Emma Stone (photo: @stonesdaily/X)


Critics have described his latest film Poor Things as a weird sex comedy, and filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos says incorporating intimate scenes in the movie was "never an issue" for him.

The award-winning director said it was baffling how the industry was "prudish" about sex but liberal about violence.

"For me, that aspect was never an issue. Sex in movies, or nudity — I just never understood the prudishness around it. It always drives me mad how liberal people are about violence and how they allow minors to experience it in any way, and then we’re so prudish about sexuality," Lanthimos told the New York Times.

Poor Things is based on Scottish writer Alasdair Gray's novel of the same name, and is set in the Victorian era.

The film's plot narrates the story of Belle Baxter, played by Emma Stone, a young woman brought back to life by an eccentric but brilliant scientist, Dr Goodwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe). Eager to experience the world, Belle runs off with Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), a debauched lawyer, and travels across continents.

Filming sex scenes was "just very intimate" and even lacked a boom operator for sound to keep the set as closed as possible, added Lanthimos.

Stone, who also serves as producer on Poor Things, said whenever there was an intimate scene, other than the actors, only four people would be present on the set. The film is Stone and Lanthimos' second collaboration after their critically-acclaimed period dark comedy The Favourite.

"There was Yorgos and our (director of photography) Robbie Ryan, who looks at me like I am a lamp — he's seen me naked so many times, it's so beyond nothing — and then Hayley (Williams, the first assistant director), and Olga (Abramson), our focus puller. That was the room. And also, an amazing intimacy coordinator (Elle McAlpine)," the actor said.

Stone said she was "proud" of the sex scenes in Poor Things. "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," she said of her character.

Poor Things premiered at the 80th Venice International Film Festival on 1 September, where it won the gala's top prize the Golden Lion.

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