He drew charges of blasphemy for playing a crucified Jesus who dreams of making love to Mary Magdalene in “The Last Temptation of Christ.” He had hot wax poured over him in the nude by Madonna in the murder mystery “Body of Evidence.”
But for actor Willem Dafoe, perhaps the toughest sex scenes yet were in a new film co-starring and directed by his wife.
“The aesthetic is not that we’re taking a hand-held camera and we’re just letting it roll and doing our thing,” Dafoe said at an Israeli film festival, where he and spouse Giada Colagrande promoted their independent feature “Before It Had a Name.”
“The truth is that something as simple as, you know, kissing someone off-screen — if you really kiss them [on-screen] ... you’re going to see spit and mushed faces and all that thing,” he told Reuters on Wednesday in an interview.
“Unless it’s a down-and-dirty little film ... you have to strike that balance between having it rooted and having the people not fall out of it,” said Dafoe, 50.
Set in an upstate New York mansion sheathed in black rubber, “Before It Had a Name” is a psychological thriller that features graphic couplings between the characters Dafoe and Colagrande play, including one in which she menstruates.
Italian-born Colagrande, 30, agreed that simulating sex on-camera was a self-conscious act — even with one’s spouse.
“Whenever there is nudity or, even more, a sex scene, the crew and everyone else in the film with you tends to get embarrassed,” she said. “When they get embarrassed, you pay more attention to whatever you do.”
Entertainment journal Variety excoriated “Before It Had a Name” as “a wannabe haunted house tale laced with silly sex scenes.”
But Dafoe, whose turn with Madonna was named among the “Ten Most Embarrassing Movie Sex Scenes” by Empire magazine last month, remained undaunted.
“When people look at movies and excise those scenes as not being part of the fabric of the movie, that’s a little incorrect because in this, hopefully, they are just part of the weave and part of the storytelling,” he said.
“When people get intimate and take off their clothes, the stakes get a little higher and the story moves a little faster.”