The Guardian - April 2020

The breakthrough was the decision to hire the services of “intimacy co-ordinator” Ita O’Brien. “I was anxious to start with because I thought the most subtle and important moments would be between me and the actors,” admits Abrahamson. “But what’s brilliant is that she would come in and talk to the whole crew and production about simple things like not using euphemisms, about getting explicit consent every time you’re about to do something and finding a language to talk about lovemaking, and the shapes and moods of it, that is empowering for the people involved.”

“She’s the go-to,” agrees Mescal. “She’s brilliant,” says Edgar-Jones. “The sex scenes were a joy to us because it was her job to worry about how it would work and we just turned up, did the choreography and carried on. We just had to think about the emotional beats.”

For Edgar-Jones, this sensitivity extends importantly to the use of nudity. “What I’m really happy with is that there’s an equal representation of both our bodies. Paul is equally exposed. When we’re in a scene and topless, it’s different for Paul than it is for me, so that it’s nice that there are shots where we are both fully nude! It means that there’s more of a balance, gender-wise.” One of the puzzling features of the intense identification of readers with Connell and Marianne is that they inhabit a pretty rarefied cultural niche, with its own intellectual and political snobberies. They discuss critical theory and The Communist Manifesto and despise fellow students who don’t put in the reading. At school, Marianne turns her loneliness into an arrogant aloofness which is part of her appeal to Connell, making more popular girls seem dull and samey. Rooney herself has said she had expected the novels only to appeal to “people who share my ideology or have a similarly jaundiced view of social systems.”

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