Netflix has started to corner the market on movies with graphic sex scenes, with 365 Dni and now Love in the charts of the most-watch movies on the streamer. The latter, however, takes things much further than the former, with the French film from director Gaspar Noe featuring genuine unsimulated sex scenes right from the opening of the movie, which is a minutes-long masturbation scene ending in ejaculation.
According to star Karl Glusman, speaking to Variety, this masturbation scene was one of the first he shot on the film. The actor said: "The first day of shooting, he said, 'It's time for your big close up!' He lowered the camera to my waist level and got the focus right. And he said, 'All right, take your pants off!' The scene [with the ejaculation] was on the first day of shooting. That was my ice breaker."
If that was not intimidating enough, the two actors involved in the scene barely knew each other. According to an interview between Noe and The Hollywood Reporter: "We shot all the nude scenes the first week with a very small crew. We didn't even rehearse before — the actors had never even kissed each other before we started. I didn't want to shoot the nude scenes over and over again, so for all the nude scenes, we had two camera positions for each scene so we had editing options. But there is nothing that we shot that didn't seem natural when we were doing it. I didn't give them directions."
Asked how he prepared for this, Glusman said: "I went to the bathroom to garner some courage. I looked in the mirror. It felt like the scene in Boogie Nights, where he's pumping himself up. I was like, 'What are you doing?! This is not you. You can't do this. You should run away.' I definitely had a moment when my heart sped up, and I thought, 'This is a huge f***ing mistake.'"
Though the masturbation scene is real (though Noe has admitted he added some fake extra ejaculate), the director has never reveled exactly which sex scenes are real and which were faked. He told Slant: "Some things are real and some things are simulated in the movie, but it's not an issue as long as it looks real on screen. By starting with a scene where things really happen, you believe all the rest is real...It's like a magician bringing a rabbit out of a hat: If the rabbit looks alive, that's important, not how it comes out."
Asked whether he used a body double, meanwhile, Glusman said, "a magician never reveals his secrets."
We do know, however, that the scenes featuring Klara Kristin as Omi were faked. Noe said to THR, "Klara initially didn't want to do [the movie], but that was because she wasn't an actress and was unsure," while the actress herself told Dazed that she "couldn't go that far" and actually have real sex on screen.
Though actors Glusman and Aomi Muyock did film real sex scenes for the movie, Noe revealed to Indiewire that he was unable to film a scene he wanted to because the latter did not want to do it. He said, "they had issues about things that I cannot understand. For example, at the point the couple buys a dildo, I thought they would [use it], but the actress said, 'no way'... For her, that was a vision of degradation or humiliation. She said, 'No way I'm going to put a vibrator — or whatever — inside my p****.'"
As well as encouraging his actors to appear nude on the movie, Noe's penis also has a cameo in the film as the genitals of one of Murphy's (played by Glusman) exes. The Enter the Void and Climax director said of this to Slant: " I thought showing that he had images of the enemy's d*** would make sense, and it was easier to do it than get a body double. Also it was a way to show to Karl that it was no problem. He would show his d***, so I would show mine too."
Love is streaming now on Netflix.