Amir here. TIFF has been over for more than a month but I still have one interview left to share with you. With The Sessions opening in theaters today, it was the perfect time to share my chat with Ben Lewin, the film's director. We touched upon everything from the politics of sex and nudity in Hollywood to the influence of his own experience with polio on building the character of Mark O'Brien. It's a film I encourage everyone to see because it's surprisingly funny and incredibly heartfelt, and features two of the strongest lead performances of the year. (In case you missed these back in September, here's my review of the film and my interview with one of its stars, William H. Macy.)
Amir for TFE: I can’t think of a better place to start the interview than nudity.
Ben Lewin: Neither can I!
Amir: Because, in general I’ve been accustomed to seeing certain types of people have sex on screen in Hollywood films and everyone else’s sex life is barely ever shown, as if, you know, people in their 40s or black people don’t have sex. It’s unbelievable and I really appreciate that we get to see something very different here. Was the film always so explicit since the idea was conceived in your head?
Ben: I think if you read Mark O’Brien’s article, there’s no other way. The essence of it was that he was learning the ABCs, what goes where, what do you do, and I think the explicitness is part of revealing his naiveté and how childlike he was when it came to sex. I was only keeping faithful to his original work, which was really what inspired me. Every time I felt like I was losing my way in the script, I’d go back to his text and rediscover what turned me on in the first place. The first thing that struck me when I read it was the frankness. The explicitness doesn’t make it sexier, it just makes it more ordinary.
My point exactly! Everybody at every age does it. You don’t have to look like a star.
I’d never imagined myself going there though...[MORE]