Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hysteria Director Explain How To Make The Perfect Vibrator Movie (With Sandbags)

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Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy In Hysteria

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s new comedy about the invention of the vibrator required a light hand (pun extremely intended!) when it came to shooting scenes of Victoria women, uh, enjoying their treatment. So how does a filmmaker shoot such delicate material? “We had orgasm rehearsal!” Hysteria director Tanya Wexler explained. “We didn’t want it to sound porny, but we also didn’t what it to sound incredibly absurd.”

Seeing as how this is cinema, not Skinemax, Wexler and her male leads Hugh Dancy and Jonathan Pryce also had to get crafty with how they shot scenes featuring the good doctors, er, tending to their lady patients before the ingenious invention arrives. “They can’t just kind of fake it,” Wexler said (pun unintended!). “There was a lot of uncomfortable brainstorming until Hugh was like, ‘Can we just use a sandbag?’ Jonathan, after two days of shooting, comes up to me and says, ‘I rubbed the skin off the knuckles of my hand.’” We call that dedication to the craft!

While Gyllenhaal’s brassy protagonist Charlotte doesn’t face any problems that are quite so graphic, she still got inventive developing her character. “I wasn’t concerned at all with her being historically accurate,” Maggie explained. “I just wanted her to be alive and wild and full of being a woman. She could be from any time, any planet.”

Hysteria

Meanwhile, both women had a question about the Victorian society that gave birth to the vibrator (so to speak). That question is: really? “Is it really true that theses people who couldn’t look at a woman’s ankle thought they could give a woman an orgasm and that was considered a medical procedure?” Maggie laughed. “Really, don’t you think men knew what women’s orgasms look like for a long time?” We hope so!

“The core root is the denial that we are all in about something in some way,” Wexler agrees. “Doctors can be masturbating women one minute, and then barely able to old the hand of the woman they’re courting the next.” As if you didn’t want to see the movie already!

[Photo: Sony Classics]

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