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Mark Ruffalo Worried He Was ‘Too Old’ for ‘Poor Things’ Sex Scenes With Emma Stone

Mark Ruffalo Worried He Was Too Old for Poor Things Sex Scenes
Mark Ruffalo in POOR THINGS. Yorgos Lanthimos/Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

Mark Ruffalo had reservations about his role in director Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film, Poor Things.

“I’m 55 now, so … like, the sex scenes — am I too old to be doing that kind of stuff?” Ruffalo recalled thinking during an interview with Perfect Magazine for their Monday, January 15, cover story. “Does anyone want to see that?”

Ruffalo, who has since turned 56, starred opposite Emma Stone in the black comedy, which hit theaters in December 2023. Stone, 35, portrayed Bella Baxter, a young woman revived after her suicide by eccentric surgeon Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe), who replaces her brain with that of an infant’s.

As Bella quickly regains her intelligence, she runs off with lawyer Duncan Wedderburn (Ruffalo) and begins a journey of self-discovery, which involves a lot of sex.

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Although Ruffalo had doubts about his involvement in the project — he told Perfect Magazine, “I didn’t know if I could pull this off” — he sees the merit in depicting sex on screen.

Mark Ruffalo Worried He Was Too Old' for 'Poor Things Sex Scenes With Emma Stone
Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo in POOR THINGS. Atsushi Nishijima/Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

“I feel like we’re in this prudish time for films,” he said. “Sexuality is so deeply connected to the psychology of a character. And it should be explored in that sense too.”

Lanthimos, 50, has also defended the movie’s unabashed exploration of sex.

“It was very important for me to not make a film that was going to be [prudish], because it would be completely betraying the main character. So, we had to be confident,” he said at Poor ThingsVenice International Film Festival premiere in September 2023. “The character [had to] have no shame, and Emma had to have no shame about her body, nudity and engaging in those scenes, and she understood that right away.”

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Stone talked about what drew her to the role during a December 2023 joint Hollywood Reporter interview with Lanthimos and Ruffalo.

“The idea of going back from scratch, seeing the world anew and not having shame around pleasure or joy or pain, experiencing it all for the first time — that was the most exciting part to me,” the actress said.

Stone described the film’s sex scenes as “very comfortable” for her during a January 2024 interview with GamesRadar+.

“It was a really small room every time, it was very few people, and we had an amazing intimacy coordinator, Elle McAlpine,” she explained. “In some ways, those scenes were kind of easier than the other ones because they were so choreographed and so straightforward.”

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Stone added that the NSFW moments were “completely necessary” to her character’s growth. “They feel very clinical and often very funny — to me, at least,” she said.

Earlier this month, Stone won a Golden Globe for Best Actress — Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for her portrayal of Bella Baxter. During her acceptance speech, the Favourite star said that she thinks of Poor Things as a romantic comedy.

“I see this as a rom-com, but in this sense of — Bella falls in love with life itself rather than a person, and she accepts the good and the bad in equal measure. And that really made me look at life differently,” Stone said. “And that all of it counts and all of it is important. And she has stayed with me deeply, so this means the world to me.”

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