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Normal People stars 'weren’t hurt' by sex scenes uploaded on porn sites, says director

The series included the longest sex scene ever to be played on Irish television at 4 minutes 40 seconds and included full male and female nudity
Jim Gallagher

Normal People stars “weren’t hurt” by their sex scenes ending up on porn sites, according to director Lenny Abrahamson.

There was outrage two years ago when intimate scenes starring Kildare actor Paul Mescal and Londoner Daisy Edgar-Jones appeared on sex sites.

Producers immediately complained and the footage was taken down.

Now Abrahamson has claimed the two actors, who played Connell Waldron and Marianne Sheridan in the huge TV hit, were not damaged by the episode.

“I think all of us, as a group, felt very solid with the work and knew that what we’d done was really good and important,” the director told Radio Times.

“We could defend it ethically. I don’t think any of that [footage on porn websites] hurt any of the actors.”

“As a production entity we were straight on it with the broadcasters and streamers, to constantly have anything taken down.”

He added: “I think that’s all you can do, otherwise you’re letting the worst people in society determine what you can do because of how they’ll construe it.”

The 12-part series, adapted from the book of the same name by Sally Rooney, was known for its numerous and lengthy intimate scenes.

They included the longest sex scene ever to be played on Irish television at 4 minutes 40 seconds and included full male and female nudity.

The drama also had the most sex scenes ever in a BBC programme.

The show followed the on-off love affair between Connell and Marianne from school to university over four years.

Abrahamson’s latest series, Conversations with Friends, also based on a Sally Rooney book, can currently be seen on RTE and also includes numerous sex scenes.

It follows two students and former lovers, played by Cork’s Alison Oliver and American Sasha Lane, whose lives become entwined with those of an older couple played by Joe Alwyn and Jemima Kirke.

Newcomer Oliver said she had no problem with the sex scenes because “they were a continuation of the dialogue” between her character and that of Alwyn.

She has claimed the sex scenes were “really appropriate” because “a massive part of how they communicate is through intimacy”.

Intimacy co-ordinator Ita O’Brien, who also worked on Normal People, helped them through the choreography.

Abrahamson said “he felt great responsibility” for his actors and was confident that the scenes were in no way “decorative”.

He also revealed that the cast had the episodes screened for them ahead of broadcast “to make sure they were happy”.

Abrahamson, who also directed Adam & Paul and Garage, shot to international film with his 2015 film Room which earned him an Oscar nomination.


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