Comedy shows it’s hard out there for an NYC hipster
- Last Updated: 1:20 AM, April 15, 2012
- Posted: 7:46 PM, April 14, 2012
When shooting a sex scene, try not to look like you’re being murdered.
That’s just one of the many lessons that Lena Dunham, creator and star of HBO’s new comedy “Girls,” learned while filming the most overhyped series in recent memory.
“Girls” stars Dunham as Hannah, an aspiring writer whose parents cut her off financially two years after she graduates from college. An unpaid intern in a publishing house, she must navigate her way though our expensive, heartless city with little but the emotional support of her friends.
The media has been tripping all over itself to shower praise on the show for the realistic way it captures the financial and emotional struggles of 20-something women in New York. The Hollywood Reporter called the show, “one of the most original” of the past few years.
That’s a lot for Dunham, 25, to live up to. Luckily, she’s had good advice from executive producer Judd Apatow, who has helped shape the show — advising her on how to craft some of its unappetizing sex scenes.
“He’s so good at making it unawkward to give two naked actors a thought,” says Dunham, who speaks to the Post at HBO’s Midtown offices clad in a navy blue and black Marc Jacobs dress which, she says, her stylist calls “the distressed widow.”
“I would sit with Judd in my bathrobe at the monitors and be like, ‘I’m sorry I’m so sweaty. I look like I’ve been having fake sex.’”
Dunham first came to public attention with “Tiny Furniture,” a 2010 film that she wrote, directed and starred in about a 20-something girl trying to find her place in the world. She takes much of her influence from the mumblecore film genre, which places its characters in long, stumbling, often brutally honest conversations.
Apatow joined “Girls,” which is set in Greenpoint, based on his admiration for the film, and has helped Dunham walk the line between mumblecore’s studied aimlessness and the tight structure required by comedy.
“It’s a constant struggle,” says Dunham, who wrote or co-wrote all of the season’s 10 episodes. “We want one version of the scene which is as lengthy as it needs to be to feel honest, but we also want you to feel that comedic pace. Judd will say, ‘Shoot the scene, then figure out the 30-second version and shoot that too.’ So we’ll have two options.”
One provocative scene finds her character, Hannah, having demeaning, role-play sex with her “boyfriend,” Adam, played by Adam Driver. Their session turns disturbing when he starts talking to her as if she’s in elementary school.
“Once you’ve had a little bad sex, it’s easy to imagine a lot more bad sex,” says Dunham, who only found the right tone for the scene after extensive improvisation with Driver and Apatow.