Filming love scenes can be tricky business, and same-sex scenes can be especially delicate for everyone involved. So when director Francis Lee appeared nervous as he prepared to choreograph a scene of sapphic love on the set of Ammonite, The Hollywood Reporter reports star Kate Winslet decided a woman’s touch was in order.
“Saoirse and I choreographed the scene ourselves,” Winslet said, referring to Ammonite co-star Saoirse Ronan.
While director Lee was “naturally very nervous,” the star of Titanic and Contagion indicated she and Ronan “just felt really safe” together.
“I just said to him [Lee], ‘Listen, let us work it out.’ And we did,” Winslet explained. “‘We’ll start here. We’ll do this with the kissing, boobs, you go down there, then you do this, then you climb up here.’ I mean, we marked out the beats of the scene so that we were anchored in something that just supported the narrative.”
The result of the stars’ combined efforts is that Winslet felt the “least self-conscious” and the “proudest” of any love scene she has done.
Ammonite is loosely based on the real-life story of Mary Anning who lived in Victorian England during the early 19th century. Anning made many significant discoveries during her lifetime, but the male-dominated paleontology organizations of the times shunned the female fossil hunter even as they celebrated her finds.
The movie follows Anning (Winslet) as she hires a timid and sickly married woman, Charlotte Murchison (Ronan) as her apprentice. In Lee’s retelling, the pair soon become sexually involved as they search the shores and countryside for fossils. While there is no evidence to suggest Anning and Murchison were involved sexually in real life, the film centers the burgeoning relationship between the two and obviously includes some very graphic scenes.
So how did Winslet, who was inspired to work with Francis Lee after seeing his directorial debut God's Own Country, feel about choreographing and performing in a same-sex love scene?
“It’s definitely not like eating a sandwich,” Winslet revealed.