On Set With The Men Behind Milk
By Michael Joseph Gross
While filming a campaign victory celebration scene, for example, Sean Penn �got off his motorcycle, and he was very excited, and he started kissing people, kissing these extras on the way in,� Jinks recalled. �Afterward, there were all these male extras that said, �Oh, my God, Sean Penn just kissed me!�� (Van Sant said that another scene, in which Penn and Franco share a long, deep, hungry kiss, was inspired by a Douglas Gordon video installation called The Kiss, which he sent Penn and Franco to watch together.)
Milk depicts a lot more than kissing, though. The sex scenes are every bit as erotic and explicit as such scenes in To Die For or Van Sant�s other films. And though Van Sant seemed completely comfortable talking about these scenes, Jinks said, �If people walk out of our movie talking about sex scenes, we would have failed in our goals for the movie.�
�By the same token,� Cohen offered, �if people walk out talking about the lack of sex scenes, � la Philadelphia, we would also fail.� Milk, he pointed out, marks a major turning point in Hollywood�s depiction of the place of sex in gay characters� lives: �It�s the first studio film where the sex scenes with gay men are in the same places and exactly the same amount as they would be with straight characters.�
Read James Franco's interview with Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black here.