Emma Stone defends sex scenes in Poor Things: ‘I don’t just want to be naked all the time’

Emma Stone has defended the sex scenes in her new movie, Poor Things

The film, released on 12 January in the UK, portrays Stone as Bella Baxter, who is “brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Goodwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe),” as per the synopsis. 

“Under Baxter’s protection, Bella is eager to learn,” and has to explore both the world around her, and herself. Like every young person going through life, though, that also includes her identity and sexuality. 

There are many sex scenes in the movie over the course of Bella’s developmental life – including scenes which depict sex work and address themes such as misogyny and the pleasure gap

Stone has been forced to defend the artistic choice to show such intimacy – which is, at times graphic – in the film. In an interview with the star on 16 January on BBC Radio 4, host Samira Ahmed dubbed the scenes inappropriate, even for a Hollywood film. 

Some viewers have also said that they find scenes in the film “disturbing” and believe it “normalises paedophilia”.

However, responding to the host, Stone said: “So much of this was about being true to Bella’s experience. It [sex] is obviously a huge part of her experience and her growth, as it is, I think, for most people in life.”

However, Stone has now urged viewers not to solely focus on the sex scenes in the film, but on Bella’s character development as a whole. “But I see it as just one aspect of many to her – her discovery of food or philosophy, travel and dance. Sex is another aspect.”

She continued: “One of the things that we had talked about from very early on and I thought was extremely important was that Bella is completely free and without shame about her body,” she continued. “She doesn’t know to be embarrassed by these things or to cover things up or not dive into the full experience when it comes to anything.”

“So for the camera to sort of shy away from that, or to say like, ‘OK, well, we’ll just cut all of this out because our society functions in a particular way’… it felt like a lack of being honest about who Bella is.

“I’m not a person that just wants to be naked all the time, but I am someone who wants to honour the character as fully as I possibly can,” said the actor. “That’s part of her journey, so who am I to say that should be shameful?”, Stone concluded.

Poor Things is out now in cinemas.

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