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Simulated Sex and Laughs on the Set of ‘Californication’

June 17, 2012

Originally Published:
BackStage
Simulated Sex and Laughs on the Set of ‘Californication’
JUNE 9, 2012

This week I got to work on “Californication” again, which means I got to shoot another simulated sex scene with Pam Adlon. I’d have to say out of everyone in the world I would want to have simulated sex with, Pam is at the top of the list. We have a difficult time getting through a scene. We’re laughing too hard. There’s nothing wrong with that. Unless you are laughing during simulated sex, you’re not doing it right.

But it brings up an interesting problem — besides signing the legal document beforehand stipulating that no part of me will enter any part of Pam at any time or I will be sued. What about the problems actors have on the set when they are having too much fun?

These problems are a lot sneakier than dealing with shooting under difficult conditions, be it a night shoot, a confused director, an ego-driven star, or a trained dog. When times are tough, it is easier to marshal your concentration for the tasks at hand.

Take my unique situation on “Californication.” This is the sixth season and the third season I’ve worked on the show. It’s the same cast, crew, writers, and directors — a big family. When I showed up on the set for the first time this season, everyone came up to welcome me. It was a wonderful feeling. They called us in to rehearse. The cameramen and sound technicians hugged me or patted me on the back. When she saw me, Pam screamed, ran up, and gave me a huge squeeze.

I had worked with the episode director, John Dahl, several times in the last two years. He is clear, fast, and fun to work with — like all of the directors on the show. He greeted me warmly and asked how everything was going. I talked about my wife, Ann, and what the kids were doing. He talked a little about what he had been up to the last few months. Then he said, “Shall we rehearse one?”

Oh yeah. Work. I forgot.

Pam and I went through the first part of the action for camera positions. I realized I wasn’t in the right place to do the scene — the right place in my head. My focus had been sabotaged by comfort. In spite of the good times, I had to find the beginning of the scene.

John came up and said, “Do we need another rehearsal? Want to just shoot one?” Pam yelled out “Shoot!,” which I totally agreed with on a theoretical level. You don’t want to overrehearse a comedy scene, even if it is a scene that is filled with grief and remorse, like the one we were about to shoot.

I stood outside the front door and got ready to make my entrance when more crew people came up, shook my hand, and told me how happy they were to see me back on the show. It was hard not to feel good from all of the love, but in this case it was counterproductive.

I had to pull out one of my oldest but most tested techniques for focusing: I said I needed to run to the restroom. No one will ever say no.

I ran to the bathroom and locked the door. I took a moment to feel the quiet and mentally get to the moment when I knock on my ex-wife’s door to apologize. I secured the starting place in my head and ran down the stairs and called out to John, “Thanks. I needed that. I’m ready to go.”

He called “Action!” I knocked. Pam opened the door. I looked into her eyes and said my first line. And the rest is part of Season 6 — simulated sex and all.

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4 Comments
  1. Michael FitzJohn permalink

    you are so brillant, you bring clairity to a 62 year old Vietnam veteran with P.T.S.D. who walks 12 miles every pre-dawn or dawn looking for something. I have no idea what it is. You “get me” I think,,
    I like that,
    thanks for your magic. You are magical, you know.

  2. Mike Andrews permalink

    Stephen,

    That “no part may enter her” contract blows my mind. You can be sued, OK. Do they spell out financial penalties?

    At least they don’t try to ban any uncontrolled “hydraulics” but I think that was covered when Drama lost control on an episode of Entourage.

    Thanks for the insights on the biz!

    • Mike, they don’t spell out penalties. I think they are just laying out the groundwork so no one can sue the production company for saying they let things get out of hand. The producers are passing the torch on to the performer so if I misbehave, I am at fault and not the company.

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