Mark Ruffalo defends Poor Things sex scenes

As Poor Things is about to hit UK cinemas, star Mark Ruffalo has reflected on the importance of including sex scenes in the education of protagonist Bella Baxter.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ gothic dramedy adapts the 1992 novel of the same name by Alasdair Gray, telling the story of Bella (Emma Stone), a woman who gets a new lease on life after she’s revived by scientist, Dr Godwin ‘God’ Baxter (Willem Dafoe). Wide-eyed and hungry for knowledge and experiences, Bella discovers pleasure, with sex becoming integral to her journey.

Most of the movie’s (many) sex scenes — slightly edited for release in the UK — see Bella get into some “furious jumping” with slimy lawyer Duncan Wedderburn (Ruffalo).

Poor Things

Related: Mark Ruffalo says naked scene in Poor Things was his “least favourite part”

“It’s a huge part of the story,” Ruffalo told Digital Spy in an exclusive chat.

“It’s a woman growing from very early on through her teens to her fully realised adult,” he continued, explaining how Bella’s approach to sex is extremely relatable.

“How many of us in our teens, all we really cared about was sex. If we can do what Bella and Duncan did in our teens – some of us more lucky than others did get to do that – it’s such an important part of our human development,” he added.

emma stone, mark ruffalo, poor things

Searchlight Pictures/Astushi Nishijima

Related: Emma Stone explains how Poor Things has changed her as a person

The Marvel star admitted intimate scenes in films can feel gratuitous at times, but assured this isn’t the case with Poor Things.

“On the other hand, there is a lot of gratuitous sex scenes in movies,” Ruffalo said.

“All of a sudden, you’re in a sex scene like, ‘Why am I…’ and it feels weird as an actor, but you know it’s to get a certain audience in and that’s fine. But this does not smack of that at all.”

For his part, Dafoe said that all sex scenes can serve a purpose, even seemingly unnecessary ones.

“I think a lot can get accomplished with those sex scenes, even the gratuitous ones,” he chimed in. “A lot gets accomplished.”

Poor Things is released in UK cinemas on January 12.

January 2024 gift ideas and deals
Headshot of Stefania Sarrubba

Reporter, Digital Spy

Stefania is a freelance writer specialising in TV and movies. After graduating from City University, London, she covered LGBTQ+ news and pursued a career in entertainment journalism, with her work appearing in outlets including Little White Lies, The Skinny, Radio Times and Digital Spy

Her beats are horror films and period dramas, especially if fronted by queer women. She can argue why Scream is the best slasher in four languages (and a half).