Filming a sex scene is truly a matter of mind over body. So it came as a relief for Bel Powley and Alexander Skarsgard that their time spent preparing for tumbles between the sheets made for an emotionally synchronized performance in “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.”

“We sat down and plotted out Minnie and Monroe’s emotional journey together so every single piece made sense,” Powley, who plays the highly hormonal 15-year-old Minnie to Skarsgard’s 30-something Monroe, reveals to Made in Hollywood. “When we got down to doing the actual sex scenes we knew exactly where we’re coming from, where we’re going and, in our minds, what our characters felt like,” she explains, adding, “so it never felt gratuitous, or weird or out of place.”

It is good then that their joint character study paid off as cameras rolled — especially since it was the 23-year-old actress’ first sex scene, an experience she describes as “nerve-racking.”

“Bel had never had a sex scene onscreen before and she never even kissed a guy onscreen,” Skarsgard reveals. “We had to shoot these scenes the first three days, so basically it was straight into it. Fortunately we had two weeks of rehearsals in San Francisco when we started.”

The coming of age story explores the dynamics between Minnie, a 1970s San Francisco teen, who has reached a sexual awakening and carries on an affair with “the handsomest man in the world,” her mother’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend Monroe (Skarsgard). Wise beyond her years, Minnie then holds Monroe emotionally captive.

Despite age differences between the teen and her much older lover, the film, directed by Marielle Heller, doesn’t point out the obvious victim-predator relationship. Instead, it revels in female empowerment.

“In terms of the content and what it meant for Minnie’s story—and what I think it’s going to meant to young women—I wasn’t nervous about it,” Powely says. “I was actually very proud of it and excited to do it because if I had seen a normal body like that onscreen and sex scenes shown through a female lens when I was growing up, then I would’ve thought of female sex in a very different way.”

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

"Some things are best kept secret"
R1 hr 42 minJan 24th, 2015
Showtimes & Tickets