Yorgos Lanthimos Says An Intimacy Coordinator Made “Everything Much Easier For Everyone” On ‘Poor Things’ Given Amount Of Nudity For Emma Stone — Venice

Yorgos Lanthimos passed through the Lido this morning with Poor Things, starring Emma Stone, his first feature film since 2017’s The Favourite

Based on Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel of the same name, Poor Things follows Stone as Bella Baxter, a creation of the brilliant and unorthodox scientist played by Willem Dafoe in an echo of Mary Shelley’s classic horror novel Frankenstein. Mark Ruffalo plays a slick and debauched lawyer in the pic, which also stars Ramy Youssef, Jerrod Carmichael, and Christopher Abbott.

At the film’s official presser this afternoon, one topic continually raised by journalists in the room was sex, particularly how Lanthimos approached the film’s many sex scenes with his lead, Emma Stone. Throughout the film, Stone’s character features in multiple sex scenes and appears fully nude.

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“I have to credit Elle McAlpine, our intimacy coordinator,” Lanthimos said. “At the beginning, this profession felt a little threatening to most filmmakers, but I think it’s like everything: if you’re with a good person, it’s great and you realize you actually need them. She made everything much easier for everyone.” 

Lanthimos added that it was a “shame” Stone couldn’t be there to discuss her role in crafting the film’s sex scenes. Stone did not travel to Venice to observe SAG’s rules around striking members promoting work they completed with currently struck companies. Poor Things, which was produced by Searchlight, is not eligible for the interim agreement program. Lanthimos went on to say that while the film was shot in “big studio sets” with lots of crew around, he was able to create a uniquely intimate atmosphere by reducing on-set numbers through practical lighting, which required fewer people to be around the production.  

“That enabled us to have just three people in the room. Just the camera, and sometimes even sound wouldn’t be there. That created a very comfortable and intimate environment.”

He added: “Emma had to have no shame about her body and nudity. And she understood that was needed right away. The great thing about Emma and myself is that we have completed four films together, so there is a shorthand. We can communicate without having to explain everything.” 

The pic was penned by Lanthimos’ regular collaborator Tony McNamara (The Favourite). Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe produced for Element Pictures, along with Stone and Lanthimos.

When asked if he could describe the pic, Lanthimos joked: “It’s a film that’s very hard to describe. There have been films throughout time that are unique and exceptional. In our time, there are maybe not many films like it. It’s hard for me to say what it is.” 

However, the director did add that he believed the film’s story was “extremely contemporary” despite being adapted from a novel written in the 1990s. 

“Speaking about freedom and the way we perceive the world and the position of women in society and the relationship between men and women is very contemporary,” he said. “Things have changed slightly, so we have new tools to identify things, and the book was written in the 90s. It’s funny that much has changed since then.

Poor Things was originally slated for release on Sept. 8 by Searchlight but has been pushed to Dec. 8. Venice runs until Sept 9.

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