Emma Stone Explains the Controversial Sex Scenes in ‘Poor Things’

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In Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, Emma Stone plays a character who functions as a play on Frankenstein’s monster, a woman named Bella Baxter who comes back to life with the brain of her own baby. She also goes through a sexual awakening, so viewers find the dynamics a bit complicated and, in some cases, controversial. However, Stone explained her “honest” performance in the film during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.

“Bella is completely free and without shame about her body,” Stone began. “[Sex] is obviously a huge part of her experience and her growth, as it is, I think, for most people in life.”

Stone added she’s “not a person that just wants to be naked all the time,” but she wanted to “honor” Bella’s perspective as she discovers the world.

She continued, “So much of this was about being true to Bella’s experience…She doesn’t know to be embarrassed by these things or to cover things up or not dive into the full experience when it comes to anything.”

And that includes sex. In the U.K., the film was reedited around certain sex scenes. Stone didn’t necessarily agree with this change.

“To say, ‘OK, well, we’ll just cut all of this out because our society functions in a particular way,’ it felt like a lack of being honest about who Bella is,” she explained.

Stone won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy for Poor Things, which also won Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy.

“Playing Bella was unbelievable,” Stone said in her acceptance speech. “I think this is a rom com, but in the sense of Bella falls in love with life itself. She accepts the good and the bad in equal measure and that really made me look at life differently. This means the world to me, thank you so much.”

She also received the 2024 Critics Choice Awards for Bella, so whatever the controversy, the actress’s performance is attracting positive attention, too.

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Aimée Lutkin

Aimée Lutkin is the weekend editor at ELLE.com. Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The Lonely Hunter, will be released by Dial Press in February 2022.

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