Due to the novel COVID-19 pandemic, Julia Goldani Telles, who stars as Iris in the third instalment of “The Girlfriend Experience”, made a conscious decision to only kiss one of her co-stars during her several more intimate scenes.
“We learned very specific steps and moves to keep each other safe [on set during a time of social distancing], but it also led to an artistic decision that I thought was really cool, where Iris only kisses one person in the whole show, and that then had more meaning. So I kind of just decided for her, which was helpful and necessary in these [COVID] times, that kissing was the most intimate thing that she could do, so she doesn’t do it,” Goldani Telles told ET Canada.
“The sex scenes aren’t detailed in the script so we really have to figure it out in rehearsals and I think everybody just kind of assumed that she would kiss, but even before the pandemic I was thinking what part of herself would she keep since she’s giving so much away, and I thought this ended up being a nice thing that she kept to herself,” she added.
In a statement, executive producer Steven Soderbergh confirmed his production followed the Safe Way Forward guidelines, which a number of Hollywood guilds set filming standards to keep all cast and crew safe during the pandemic. Some of the suggested rules included a three-zone system to block off parts of the production, paperless scripts, and consistent rapid on-site COVID-19 testing.
“First off, as a participant in the creation of The Safe Way Forward document, I’m happy and relieved we’ve been able to go back to work safely and thrilled to be partnering with Starz for the third instalment of the series,” he said. “Second, our approach to this series has always been to empower independent filmmakers, and what [director] Anja [Marquardt] has achieved in blending cutting-edge technology with ‘The Girlfriend Experience’ world is super exciting and very provocative.”
Based on Soderbergh’s 2009 film of the same name, season 3 of the anthology series will explore the relationships between exclusive escorts and their clients in the more sleek and sophisticated backdrop of London.
“This season is about a neuroscience student in Harvard, her name is Iris. She’s an American and she drops out and decides to move to London and work for a mysterious tech start up with this sort of really complicated, mysterious CEO at the helm. But then she also decides she wants to work in the world of Girlfriend Experience, which is a type of escorting that caters to multiple needs of your client, not just sex, like dinners, political conversations, whatever they want, you’re engaging in that,” Goldani Telles said. “So she decides that she sort of has this amazing opportunity to watch data because she’s primarily a scientist and she’s very ambitious, and she does this controversial thing where she inserts herself in the centre of the story and the experiment and starts spying on the men that she’s being a girlfriend to and taking the data and transferring it in secret to her start up. She’s kind of doing unethical things at both of her jobs for a larger goal.”
“Something that intrigued me so much about this season is that it’s very future facing, it has Sci-Fi overtones, it’s about how we merge technology with human desire and how they influence each other, so I thought it was very, very timely,” she added.
While Iris seems to have a similar goals as previous season leads, this specific character differs in the sense that she knows her secret life could potentially benefit her day job, rather than hinder it.
“I think this is one of the rare situations on television where we see a woman who is both professional and sexual,” Goldani Telles said. “The biggest thing for me about playing [Iris] is making sure she was able to be everything that men have historically been allowed to be on television: greedy, powerful, ambitious, unethical.”
Goldani Telles prepared for her sultry role by engaging in many different conversations with those who know best.
“I had an amazing consultant who is a girlfriend in real life, and another job by day, and she’s been doing it for I think 13 years,” Goldani Telles said. “She’s super ambitious in both of her professions. She really talked to me about how she got into it, why she likes it, and all of the psychology of it, which I thought was amazing.”
You can watch Season 3 of “The Girlfriend Experience” May 2nd on Starz.