Willem Dafoe, Jesse Plemons, and Joe Alwyn talk “Kinds of Kindness” sex scenes: 'You can't shy away'

The stars of Yorgos Lanthimos' new film also sang the praises of Emma Stone.

In an era when the cinematic sex scene has been debated to death by vocal detractors, Yorgos Lanthimos’ films keep on truckin’. The Favourite (2018) followed a fairly explicit lesbian love triangle, last year’s Poor Things gave Bella Baxter a thorough coming-of-age story in more ways than one, and now, the filmmaker’s latest project, Kinds of Kindness, boasts a bounty of casual nudity and off-kilter sexuality.

The anthology film presents three distinct segments featuring the same actors playing different characters in dark, liminal parables, each allowing performers to get down and dirty in one way or another. Three members of the movie’s all-star cast — Willem Dafoe, Jesse Plemons, and Joe Alwyn — chatted with Entertainment Weekly about the pains and pleasures of Kinds of Kindness’ sex scenes.

<p>Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures</p> Margaret Qualley, Jesse Plemons, and Willem Dafoe in 'Kinds of Kindness'

Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures

Margaret Qualley, Jesse Plemons, and Willem Dafoe in 'Kinds of Kindness'

For some performers, intimate love scenes aren’t the most enjoyable on-set experiences, primarily due to the obvious awkwardness of showing up to work and disrobing with your colleagues. “It's always uncomfortable and awkward and strange,” Plemons says. “But Yorgos creates a good environment. Everyone that he assembles is so invested in the story, so once you get past all the uncomfortable awkwardness and establish how everyone feels, it's really all about the scene.”

Plemons also stresses the positive impact of the intimacy coordinators who help gauge performers’ comfort levels and set expectations on set — a sentiment with which Alwyn strongly agrees. “Intimacy coordinators essentially turn it into a piece of choreography,” he says. “It almost feels like you're doing a dance or a fight, but having been on some projects with intimacy coordinators and some without them, ultimately, I think it's about trusting the people you're working with.”

<p>Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures</p> Jesse Plemons in 'Kinds of Kindness'

Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures

Jesse Plemons in 'Kinds of Kindness'

Related: Civil War stars break down that terrifying Jesse Plemons scene

Dafoe has a more appreciative perspective, framing sex scenes as an asset to performances and character building. “I don't have a problem with those kinds of scenes,” he says. “They're interesting because they push performances to another level because the level of discomfort or the level of intimacy pushes you — it has higher stakes.”

“I've always been interested in those kinds of scenes because you can't shy away,” Dafoe continues. “You’ve got to be there and figure it out, and it's always hard to find the tone, but I find they're bonding and fun if everybody's on the same page and everybody's game.”

Related: Willem Dafoe debuts as a 'crazy vampire hunter' in Nosferatu sneak peek

<p>Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures</p> Willem Dafoe in 'Kinds of Kindness'

Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures

Willem Dafoe in 'Kinds of Kindness'

Of course, it’s easier for such scenes to be fun when the characters themselves are into it — unlike Alwyn’s biggest scene in the movie, which revolves around a cruel act of sexual violence. “In Yorgos’ films, characters often go to uncomfortable places and do uncomfortable things,” he says. However, the heaviness of a scene isn’t necessarily reflected in the atmosphere on set while shooting it. “I certainly felt that with that darker scene, the tone on set doesn't massively change,” Alwyn says. “It doesn't feel like you're in a dark environment. It's all pretty light: People are friendly, people are joking.”

Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.

Fortunately, the actor had already navigated the awkwardness of on-screen sex with his scene partner, Emma Stone, when Lanthimos directed them in other intimate sequences in The Favourite. “Having done those scenes with Yogos as the director, I trust him and Emma,” he explains. “That familiarity and trust is a huge part of it. If you are there with people that you trust and people that you admire and love, then it's a whole lot easier.”

<p>Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures</p> Emma Stone and Joe Alwyn

Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures

Emma Stone and Joe Alwyn

Plemons was similarly effusive of his costar, with whom he’s set to appear in another forthcoming Lanthimos project, tentatively titled Bugonia. “On the technical front, the accent she did in Poor Things was one of the better American British accents I've heard,” he says. “There are all these technical aspects of her work that are amazing, but she doesn't get locked into it. And she doesn't take herself too seriously, but she takes her work seriously, which is something I really respect and admire.”

Related: Willem Dafoe laments that 'more challenging movies' don't fare as well on streaming

Dafoe also sang the praises of Stone, with whom he previously starred in Poor Things. “She's free and loose and game, but at the same time, she has real actor skills,” Dafoe says. “She has techniques, she can sing, she can dance, she can do accents — she does all that stuff that actors normally do, but sometimes those actors are a little tight. They don't have that natural non-actor quality. She can do both, and she can switch it between those two poles, and I think that's what really makes her great. So she pops like a movie star, but she's also real grounded because she's not trapped by her technique or trapped by her skill. She's pushing it.”

Kinds of Kindness is now playing in select theaters before expanding wide on June 28.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.