Meanwhile the “Saw” franchise gets an R no problem.
SM: It’s amazing, isn’t it? Absolutely amazing.
MF: Violence seems to be more acceptable. And as Steve has said before, [it is] part of the norm. Whereas all of us are involved, well, a lot of us in life are involved in some sort of sexual relationships with other people. Most of us masturbate. And yet we can’t discuss it.
SM: [Holds up left hand.] Betsy.
MF: [Laughs and holds up right hand.] Diane. [Holds up left hand.] Betsy. [Laughs.]
MF: We’re doing it. So this is what I was trying to touch on before. It’s there, so shouldn’t we acknowledge that and take a look at it and discuss it? What’s wrong with that? Why do we have to suppress it or hide it or not recognize it? That seems weird.
Brandon’s colleague at the office says, “Do you like your sugar?” and turns an innocent line into something sexual. What’s something else that if people said it in a particular way, it could sound sexual?
MF: “Do you want jam on your…” [Laughs, looks at the camera.] “You got a long lens on your camera.”
Steve, I know it was important to you not to go into too much detail about Brandon’s past. How much better or worse would life be if everyone wore their issues on their forehead?
SM: In movies I think they seem to. But in real life we don’t. Michael said something great; we set up the situation where when we come into the movie theater, it’s as if the film had to have been going on for a while before we got in there. Meaning that we picked up the story at this particular point in time. Brandon’s been living for 30-odd years and at this point we sit down in the movie theater and get a glimpse of his life.
Michael, was that an extra challenge for you that we don’t have the scene that explains, “This is what happened years ago that made me who I am today”?
MF: No, it’s relieving. It makes my job easier. Because like Steve said, these conversations I find that when I see them in scripts, I’m like, “Oh God, here we go.” I’m filling in a backstory for an audience that can do it very easily by themselves from their own experience in life, from their own observation of life. And contact with people and situations and everything. And it’s much more rich, people’s own investment, when you leave the blinds open. In the right places. That in itself is a very fine art. Hats off to Abi and Steve for that, finding the right amount of information to give out. Because you know what, you have to give the audience enough. It’s not, “OK, we’re exploring something and we’re keeping it to ourselves.” It’s not about that; it’s about investigating it together with the audience, and you have to participate.
I asked this to your “300” co-star Gerard Butler and he told me that he cries frequently: What’s something surprisingly not badass about you?
SM: I like wearing flip-flops. Often. Is that a good one?
MF: What weaker aspects of myself? I like cuddly toys, teddy bears ... I don’t know. S***. I don’t think I’m badass anyway! I think it’s probably I’m trying to look for something that I do that is badass.
SM: To be serious about the question, what’s interesting, I’ll be honest in a way. I think we’re both quite feminine in an odd, strange way. I don’t mean to say I’m feminine to put a badge of honor on my shirt. I think there’s a certain kind of femininity which I appreciate in Michael and I appreciate in a way that one can be themselves. It’s kind of liberating. I think in that question there’s a funny, interesting answer where I don’t think there’s anything which is sort of badass. I’m a man and that’s it and I try my [bleeping] best.
MF: I agree.
What will people be feeling about sex after walking out of “Shame”?
SM: I think the last thing you think about when you leave the cinema after seeing “Shame” is sex. It’s a starting point for a conversation. Sexual addiction has as much to do with sex as … [alcoholism] has to do with being thirsty. It’s just about how we all are engaged in this environment, in this world, and we’re struggling to try and navigate ourselves through. And how ultimately, ultimately, ultimately we’re on our own. ‘Cause no matter how close you get to another human being, ultimately you’re on your own. But there is hope. There is hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to navigate our way toward that light.