Rachel McAdams: ‘Disobedience’ Sex Scene With Rachel Weisz Was Unlike Any I’ve Experienced With Male Actors

There's a reason critics are calling the love scene between McAdams and co-star Rachel Weisz one of the best sex scenes of the year.
DISOBEDIENCEAlessandro Nivola (left) as Dovid Kuperman and Rachel McAdams (right) as Esti Kuperman CR: Bleecker Street
Bleecker Street

[Editor’s note: The following article contains minor spoilers for “Disobedience”]

Rachel Weisz has already weighed in on the much-discussed “Disobedience” sex scene, calling it a fundamental and empowering moment for the characters played by Rachel McAdams and herself, and now McAdams shares her thoughts on the scene everyone can’t stop talking about. The actress joined Weisz for a joint interview with Entertainment Weekly, in which she agreed the sex scene serves an integral role to her character’s development. McAdams’ Esti, an Orthodox Jew, has been repressed by her religion. The sex scene is the first major moment of freedom for the character.

“Often, you’re trying to decide if it’s gratuitous or not. But this scene felt so integral to the plot and moving the story forward,” McAdams said. “The characters need this release to open up. There was energy to that scene that I haven’t experienced in any other sex scenes [with men] in my career. There was camaraderie to it. We both felt safe and free. All those things that you love about being a woman, you get to be with [in the scene].”

“Disobedience” director Sebastián Lelio storyboarded the entire sex scene so the actors knew exactly what it would look like and whats shot would be included. The one moment many viewers won’t forget finds Weisz spitting into McAdams’ mouth, an action that made headlines after the film’s debut at the Toronto International Film Festival last year.

“I was excited that Sebastián was doing something new. It’s provocative and brings the audience into something intimate,” McAdams said about the moment. “The makeup department tested out different flavors of lube the night before to use as the spit. We settled on lychee-flavored!”

McAdams said the sex scene was filmed on a closed set. Despite being aware at first of everyone in the room “who’s clothed, holding a boom, and snacking on trail mix or whatever,” it occurred to McAdams that the sex scene was just another scene they had to film, one that should be as vulnerable as any scene being filmed for the movie.

“Everyone was very quiet and there was such warmth in the room. It was a wonderful day,” McAdams said. “[I] realized that I was doing a scene like any other scene. They should all make you feel vulnerable, some more than others, but they should all be risky. In became another day at work, in that way.”

When asked if it was challenging to play a lesbian character, McAdams said she never thought about Esti being different from that perspective.

“I knew we were telling a lesbian story and that was necessary to concentrate on, but beyond that it’s just humans being with humans,” McAdams said. “I didn’t’ think of it as gay versus straight, only in that there was unfair oppression of their love and sexuality…I don’t think I concentrated on that so much.”

“Disobedience” opens in select theaters Friday, April 27.

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