Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Atom Egoyan on Julianne Moore’s lesbian sex scene in Chloe

Moore, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson star in erotic thriller, shot in Toronto

Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore in Chloe. Credit:

Oscar-nominee Julianne Moore has proven herself the big screen’s biggest faghag, with star turns in the films of numerous queer auteurs, including roles in Far from Heaven, Safe, A Single Man, Savage Grace and Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho.

But it has taken a straight director, Toronto’s Atom Egoyan, to get Moore to give it up for a sexually charged, explicit lesbian love scene. In Egoyan’s latest film, the erotic thriller Chloe, Moore plays a physician who suspects her hubby (Liam Neeson) of having an affair. Unable to prove anything beyond her instincts, Moore hires a prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce Neeson and prove that he is indeed a philanderer.

Egoyan has shown us kink before, especially in his celebrated 1994 entry Exotica, which exposed Toronto’s seedy stripper milieu. But it’s a different approach this time around, as Egoyan is directing from someone else’s screenplay. The script, based on the 2003 French feature film Nathalie, was penned by Erin Cressida Wilson. And Egoyan reports that sticking to directing was in some ways liberating.

“Sometimes it’s really great to lose yourself in a psychological framework like this one,” he says. “With the film I got to get into people’s sex lives, but also into their fantasies — which allows for some complex, rich and horny situations.”

Chloe does touch on some of Egoyan’s favourite themes, in particular the question of where the truth ultimately lies. Seyfried reports back to Moore about her slutty shenanigans with Neeson, but after a while it’s unclear how much of her tales are true and how many are cooked up.

Some have declared Chloe merely a Euro-arthouse version of Fatal Attraction, but there’s a lot more than that going on here, and Egoyan gets bonus points for getting Moore and Seyfried into bed for a full-on lezzing out.

“I’ve wanted to work with Julianne since I saw Vanya on 42nd St,” Egoyan gushes. “She makes an amazing investment in every role she takes on. She’s so tuned in. I think this couldn’t have worked without someone of her capability tackling the role. She goes to very extreme places but is always authentic.”

Despite appearances, there are no authentic sex scenes in Chloe. Egoyan argues that filmmakers and audiences are ready for them — he points to Shortbus as an example — but there are huge differences between getting actors to engage in them and getting stars to do them.

“For big stars, there are parameters,” he says. “It’s a different thing. I think one of your main challenges with shooting an extended lovemaking scene is to assure your actors that they’re going to look good. I chose to shoot these scenes as deeply dramatic scenes. Yes, they’re erotic to look at, but sex is never just about the sex, it’s about what’s going on emotionally within the characters’ minds.

“I think Julianne and Amanda handled their scene beautifully. They were courageous and committed, and I think that’s reflected in Chloe.”

And Egoyan blushes when I praise him — a straight dude, no less — for getting Moore to get down to business with another lass, at long last. “Awwwww, that’s sweet,” he says. “I’m honoured that you would feel that way!”

Chloe is now playing.