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How Filming Sex Scenes Has Changed Since The 1980s And Movies Like Fatal Attraction, According To Deep Water’s Director

Sex is a notably repeating theme in the filmography of Adrian Lyne. While the subject isn’t a focus of movies like Flashdance and Jacob’s Ladder, it is front-and-center in erotic thrillers and dramas the director has been making since the mid-1980s – including 9½ Weeks,  Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal, the 1997 remake of Lolita, and Unfaithful.

Lyne’s latest, Deep Water, is both his return to the genre and the first feature he’s made in 20 years – and speaking with him this week about the new film, I took the opportunity to ask him for his thoughts on how Hollywood’s treatment of sex has changed since the early years of his career.

Answering the question on a technical level, Adrian Lyne spoke to what it is like to film a sex scene in the 2020s versus what the experience was like in the 1980s. He started by highlighting contrasts in the atmosphere and the presence of an intimacy coordinator, whose job on set is to ensure the comfort of stars performing simulated sex. The director said that it wasn’t something that ultimately impacted his work, especially because the coordinator evidently stayed behind the cameras and wasn’t directly on the set. Said Lyne,

Well, it's a little less relaxed now. There's an intimacy coordinator, which didn't worry me, really. I mean, she was outside looking at the monitor. She wasn't on the set, and that would have perturbed me, I think.

Continuing, the filmmaker expressed that the only way in which he felt it was a kind of drawback was its impact on his relationship with the actors in Deep Water’s intimate scenes. Trust is an important thing to exist between a director and a star, given the level of control the former has over the latter’s performance, and Adrian Lyne didn’t exactly have an affinity for what presence of an intimacy coordinator suggested in that relationship:

The only thing I sort of think is a bit of a pity is it suggests a lack of trust. And I think what's important, and the only thing I have, really, is trust between my actors and myself; if I don't have that, I've got nothing. You see what I'm saying? So that I felt was a sort of a pity.

One of 2022’s most high-profile book adaptations, Deep Water stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas as Vic and Melinda – a married couple with a child, and an untraditional romantic relationship. In exchange for her not leaving him and abandoning their family, Vic is permissive of Melinda carrying on a series of extra-marital affairs.  When, however, more than one of these “boyfriends” turns up dead, suspicions of murder quickly escalate.

Ana de Armas is featured in multiple intimate scenes in Deep Water, and shooting those kinds sequences can often be an awkward experience. One thing that Adrian Lyne lamented was that he wasn’t able to do everything in his power to try and ease tension on set. He recalled working with Michael Douglas and Glenn Close on Fatal Attraction and how a couple of glasses of champagne helped the actors chill out a bit – but evidently was strictly forbidden in the making of his latest film. Said Lyne,

The other sort of thing, I remember on Fatal Attraction, when there was a love scene over a sink in the kitchen and there was, there was crockery and stuff in the sink, and the faucet was on – you remember that scene? Then they had a glass of champagne, and it sort of eased the scene up a little bit, made it a little bit more festive, a little bit more outgoing, probably. But you can no more do that now than flying! You couldn't have any drinking on a set. There'd be lawsuits and God knows what. So that sort of thing is strict enough.

Co-starring Tracy Letts, Lil Rel Howery, Kristen Connolly, Rachel Blanchard, Jacob Elordi, Brendan Miller, and Finn Wittrock, Deep Water is set to debut as a Hulu original film, and will be available on the subscription service this Friday, March 18.

To learn more about the movies hitting theaters and streamers between now and the end of December, check out our 2022 Movie Release Calendar.

NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.