I would say the first thing to understand is what not to do. There's a kind of sex scene that's in the spy movie, where the spy meets the hot girl and one thing leads to another and they find themselves in an elegant hotel room. The camera travels lovingly over her body, and you know she's going to get killed in the next reel. There is no reason to show that sexuality, because it has no bearing on the plot. How do you think of sex onscreen? Sex is a way of communicating in life. It should be understood in the context of a story, to be part of the narrative.
How do you direct that? You understand that the scene has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has a purpose. In this movie, sex plays an important role in the narrative arc of the characters—they fall into bed long before they fall into love. That was our guide. See all of the best photos of the week in these slideshows Did you and the actors sit down and talk about sex? We talked about what turned us on and what turned us off. We watched some movies together.
The Europeans have traditionally been much more casual about sex than we are. How funny that we wouldn't consider sex part of a love story.
In my experience, it's a rather central part of anybody's love. Did the actors improvise? Sure, in two weeks, we did try to improvise some things.
With their clothes off? But you know, there is always so much you can do in a room, because when you get out to a sound stage and a set, everything is always different. There are hundreds of people around you.
There is the camera. The challenge is to have the power of concentration to shut that out. Unless you are the most lurid exhibitionist, I don't think having sex in front of other people is much of a turn-on. What about the legal aspects? There were conversations early on about what are you going to show in this scene, with lawyers and agents.
They wanted that to be legislated. They were preparing documents—pages and pages—and I remember Anne and Jake and I talking, saying: At a certain point, they said, this is about trust.
I pledged there would be nothing in the film they weren't comfortable with. Are the actors completely naked? There is something called a merkin. A merkin is a phrase that I believe comes from 19th-century England.
Because of the possibility of lice and crabs, prostitutes would shave their public hair, but then wear something to make it look as if they had pubic hair. That is a merkin. Is it like a pouch? It depends on which gender you're describing.
Where do you buy it? I suppose you go to the merkin store. They're very scanty and flesh-colored. After a certain point, they may have become more trouble than they are worth. Sometimes there's a string, or else you get rid of the string and it has to be applied with tape. I think it very well is. One might choose not to have the merkin to not have the tape experience. Was Anne nervous about being naked? Anne's anxiety had to do with the performance, much more with Parkinson's than with nudity.
Is it true that you jumped into bed with them? I had been torturing them by doing these scenes over and over again. I finally said we should all take a picture together. I climbed into bed and took my pants off under the covers. Were you wearing a merkin? To learn more about merkins, check out this article from The Daily Beast.