Joaquin Phoenix’s NC-17 gay romance promises to be sexually “dangerous” says director Todd Haynes

Joaquin Phoenix’s NC-17 gay romance promises to be sexually “dangerous” says director Todd Haynes

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Apparently, Joaquin Phoenix’s next movie is going to be “a love story” with “a strong sexual component” that will push the actor into “more dangerous territory.”

And, no, we’re not talking about Joker: Folie à Deux opposite Lady Gaga.

The yet-to-be-titled film is actually going to be an audacious gay romance—and it’s coming from none other than Todd Haynes (Carol, Far From Heaven), one of our most prolific and revered queer filmmakers working today.

We previously reported on the film’s announcement this past May, but new details have emerged from a Variety interview with Haynes, and the director’s giving us the impression that Phoenix is going to let it all hang out in this one.

“It’s a love story between two men set in the ’30s that has explicit sexual content that or at least it challenges you with the sexual relationship between these two men,” Haynes reveals in the interview. “One is a Native American character and one is a corrupt cop in LA. It’s set in the ’30s. They have to flee LA ultimately and go to Mexico.”

Though the Native American character has yet to be cast (“It’s probably going to be a discovery,” the filmmaker shares), one can assume Phoenix will be filling the “corrupt cop” role, and it sounds like it’s a part he’s quite passionate about.

Per Haynes, the actor came to him with the loose idea for the story—”some ideas and some thoughts and just questions and images”—and the two quickly got to work on developing a script along with the director’s Mildred Pierce collaborator, Jonathan Raymond.

Haynes describes the trio’s collaboration process as “wonderful” and “organic,” and adds that Phoenix just kept “pushing it further into more dangerous territory, sexually.”

Considering the filmmaker previously guessed that the film would receive an NC-17 rating, we’re starting to think that means the 48-year old actor is ready to commit to fully nude, explicit sex scenes, which… okay then!

Given that, you might think this gay love story would have trouble finding financing, but Haynes maintains it can be made cheaply and plans to film in Mexico as a stand-in for 1930s Los Angeles. The real hang-up right now, of course, is the ongoing writers and actors’ strikes (we’re still waiting on the producers of the AMPTP to pay the WGA and SAG fairly!), so there are no plans to begin filming just yet.

In the meantime, Phoenix has already got the aforementioned Joker sequel in the can, as well as an awards season-ready Napoleon Bonaparte biopic from Gladiator director Ridley Scott.

Haynes has also been attached to a biopic of singer Peggy Lee set to star Michelle Williams, but his next film is just around the corner: The melodrama May December starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore (reuniting the two after Safe and Far From Heaven).

Very loosely based on the controversial story of Mary Kay Letourneau—the former teacher who had an affair with her 6th grade student then wound up staring a family with him—the film centers on Moore as a woman living a quiet life with her husband (Riverdale‘s Charles Melton) decades after a similar incident, and Portman as an actress who arrives to town to research her life for a movie role.

May December premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this past May to rave reviews, and is definitely one of our most anticipated films of the year—it’ll play select theaters beginning November 17 before streaming on Netflix on December 1.


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