Outlander star on ‘awkward’ sex scene
Sex scenes … Are they as awkward as we think they are?
According to Australian actor David Berry, the answer is yes. At least in his case.
The 36-year-old star of the wildly popular period drama Outlander, which is streaming its latest season on Foxtel Now, has only had to shoot one intimate scene during his time on the show. Sex scenes are usually reserved for central stars Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and Clare Randall (Caitriona Balfe).
Playing gay man Lord John Grey - a beloved character, reportedly in talks for its own spin-off series - Berry told news.com.au exactly what it was like to have to shoot his sex scene, which aired in season 4 last year.
"I haven't really had to do much of them so I don't want to speak on their behalf, I've only had to do one, and I guess that was a little bit awkward," said Berry, who has also appeared in A Place To Call Home.
"The gentleman's name was Andrew … We'd only just met and we had to negotiate who was doing what, and where, and how much noise there would be in terms of grunting.
"You don't want to oversell it or underplay it, you just have to commit to it in that moment on set."
An ultimate professional, Berry said the pair engaged in "a speed dating thing" to get to know each other before they got intimate on camera.
"What I attempted to do, we asked a few questions to each other in a speed dating thing, and then we had to get into it.
"For Sam and Cat, they're very experienced. They've been doing it for five years.
"If it's someone there for the day, it's going to be (a bit awkward) but I've done them before in other things, but in this age of growing awareness with #MeToo, relating to intimate scenes, people are trying to be more discretionary and sensitive to actors when they come to set.
"But you just have to talk to each other. You're simulating as much as you can without doing the act so you want to sell it."
As for what's been the hardest scene to film, Berry said he put a lot of pressure on himself to do justice to a scene where Jamie offers himself to Lord John, who despite being in love with Jamie, declines his advances.
"I'm still not happy with it to this day, and I know fans received it very well but I found it extremely challenging," he said.
"It's a very sort of nuanced and unusual sort of situation for both characters and how they reacted in this instance says a lot about them and how much they respect each other.
"It was very difficult to get inside the delicacy of how to play that moment, I didn't want to undo too much humour but at the same time, Lord John has a good sense of humour.
"I wanted to give it the dignity it deserved.
"I still look back at it and to my satisfaction, I wasn't happy 100 per cent. Nevertheless, it was instrumental in their relationship going forward and you got a sense of how deeply they respect each other."
Season 5 of Outlander is nearing its final episode, and production on the sixth and final season was slated to begin last month however has been put on ice amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In some news that might upset fans of Lord John, Berry isn't entirely sure whether his character will appear next season.
But, he does welcome talks he could potentially get his own series down the track.
"There's so much uncertainty in the world with John's involvement in the series, whether he goes ahead with Outlander is still undetermined," Berry said.
"There was a point where I was in negotiations for talks about a potential spin-off but that's sort of out of my hands, and at this point it's all in the realm of hypotheticals.
"I think it's just circling back to what I said before, that John's future in the Outlander series is undetermined."
The show has garnered a fierce cult following since it first aired in 2014. Berry came on-board for season 3, and admits he was taken off guard initially by the extreme popularity of it.
"I really just came in blind, and then the fandom hit me after that," he said.
"And it did hit me like a brick wall. Like a tidal wave. It's a very big, passionate and encompassing fan base. People are really invested in this show.
"I'd experienced that microcosm in Australia with A Place To Call Home, which certainly had an international following but not to the same intensity as Outlander.
"The first time I got an inkling of how immense this fandom was when the casting notice went out and minutes later my Instagram was blowing up with new followers.
"It was definitely intimidating knowing so many people would be invested in my performance, and when you get a role you honestly feel this huge sense of impostor syndrome."
New episodes of season 5 of Outlander air every Monday on Foxtel