The “My Policeman” director required stars Styles, Emma Corrin, and David Dawson to view a slew of films to prepare for queer love scenes onscreen.
“As a gay man, I thought, if I’m going to direct this film, I do at least want to somehow make sure that — if I’m lucky enough to carry on living in another 10, 15, 20 years or so — I want to be able to look at the film constantly and go, ‘I did what I set out to do in terms of intimacy,'” Grandage told Entertainment Weekly. “I just knew that there was a way of telling a very specific story about same-sex intimacy that, each time we saw it in the film, helps move the narrative on. You can’t do that if you just fade to black.”
In “My Policeman,” Styles plays Tom, a closeted police officer in 1957 Brighton, U.K. who marries Marion (Emma Corrin), while secretly dating arts curator Patrick (David Dawson).
Grandage revealed that he hoped each physical interaction had “its own narrative flow” with the gay sex scenes between Dawson and Styles embodying “ease and abandonment” compared to the “difficulty of intimacy” shown with Corrin and Styles’ sequences. The “sculptural storytelling” was choreographed by an intimacy coordinator on set, unlike with Styles’ turn in female-pleasure centric “Don’t Worry Darling.”
Grandage encouraged his trio of “My Policeman” stars to watch Joseph Losey’s “The Servant” and “Don’t Look Now,” the horror movie that features one of the most famously explicit sex scenes of all time with stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland.
“Often we just go, ‘And now, the intimacy scene — one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, and gone,'” Grandage said. “But I said, ‘What happens if you extend those moments into scenes that are as big as some of the other scenes?'”
Grandage previously noted Alain Resnais’ “Hiroshima mon amour” was also a direct inspiration for his film. For Grandage, sex scenes “quite literally show something that was about ‘lovemaking’ in the broadest sense of the word, something that was choreographically interesting and not just some kind of thrusting sense of sex going on.”
Lead star Styles described the queer love sequences as “tender,” saying, “So much of gay sex in film is two guys going at it, and it kind of removes the tenderness from it. There will be, I would imagine, some people who watch it who were very much alive during this time when it was illegal to be gay, and [Michael] wanted to show that it’s tender and loving and sensitive.”
“My Policeman” is directed and executive produced by Michael Grandage (“Genius”) with a script penned by Ron Nyswaner and adapted from Bethan Roberts’ 2012 romance novel of the same name. The film premieres in theaters October 21 before streaming on Amazon Prime Video November 4.