ICYDK, fashion house Chanel recently launched a new podcast series called “Chanel Connects” where they bring together artists to talk about “the future of culture.” In its episode “The New Heroines,” the show featured actress Keira Knightley in conversation with filmmaker Lulu Wang and producer and journalist Diane Solway.
On it, Knightley revealed her new personal rule: No more sex scenes directed by men.
While talking about the representation of women’s experiences on film, Solway pointed out to Knightley, “You’ve added a new nudity clause in your contract since becoming a mother.” Knightley explained, “It’s partly vanity and also it’s the male gaze…I don’t have an absolute ban [on filming sex scenes], but I kind of do with men. I don’t want it to be that kind of, you know, those horrible sex scenes where you’re all greased up and everybody’s grunting. I’m not interested in doing that.
“I feel very uncomfortable now trying to portray the male gaze.”
However, she doesn’t think we should do away with all sex scenes. “Saying that, there’s times where I go, ‘Yeah, I completely see where this sex scene would be really good in this film and you basically just need somebody to look hot. And so, therefore, you could use somebody else because I’m too vain and the body has had two children now and I’d just rather not stand in front of a group of men naked.”
She also noted that she’d be “totally be up for exploring” representing body acceptance, especially how a body is “changed in ways that are unfathomable before becoming a mother” with “a woman [director] who’d understand that.”
Knightley also shared her experience of growing up quickly in the limelight (she had her big break at 17) and having to dealt with both how traumatizing it was while feeling that she needed to be grateful for it. “I think that maybe it’s just the survival of [that experience] that I feel incredibly proud of… It is brutal for young women within this industry [to be] followed around 24/7 by packs of up to 30 men with their lenses through my window and being called a whore every time I left the house in order to invoke a reaction because the pictures were worth more if I was crying, or be suddenly forced off the road because they suddenly found that there was a lot of money to be made off of car crashes so you’d have guys with cameras trying to force your car off the road. It was brutal.”
The three also talked about greater representation in the industry. They noted that female filmmakers have a harder time getting their projects onboard compared to their male counterparts. “I think, especially in the film business, that it’s harder for a woman who may have made a first film to get that second film and that second project than it is for male directors who do a first project,” said Solway.
“I think on average it’s fourteen years before the first film and the second film for female directors,” Knightley replied.
Wang also highlighted that many actresses “don’t have the control to change a story or a perspective [they feel] uncomfortable [with],” and how many actresses have taken on producing roles in order to have that voice behind the screen. “We need similar minded people telling the stories behind the camera and in positions of power as well as in front of the screen so that there is a clear communication.”
“That’s why it’s so important that there is more opportunity for more women in those positions because otherwise you can be talking to a guy and say, ‘This just wouldn’t happen. This is just not how I would do that. A woman would never do this,’ and they’d go, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. Don’t worry about it.’ And we as an audience would look at it and go, ‘Come on, you’d never do that.’ But if you don’t have the people there to be able to have those conversations who could understand that, then it doesn’t matter how hard you fight. You lose,” said Knightley.
“Even as a director, I’m not in the room to talk about X, Y, and Z,” said Wang.