The Girls Cast and Brian Williams Discuss the Premiere’s Shocking Sex Scene

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Photo: Mark Schafer/? Mark Schafer 2014

Always game to push the boundaries of the portrayal of awkward sex on television, merely a few short minutes into Girls’ fourth season, Lena Dunham managed to up the squirm factor by tossing in some unexpected butt play between Marnie (Allison Williams) and Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). We caught up with the cast (and Brian Williams) at the season four premiere and asked them — as delicately as we could — their thoughts on the soon-to-be-infamous sex scene. 

Allison Williams
Because of my wiring, I read it in the script and I went into total action mode. I got everyone together and I was like, “All right, Grace [in wardrobe], you and me — we’re going to come up with something so ingenious that he is going to feel comfortable.” I mean, think about where he is, right! It was our first day back of shooting and it was my birthday — everything was happening. I grabbed the makeup girl and said, “I want to smell like a cake,” so we put vanilla cream everywhere so everything smells good. And then I’m like, “Grace, we’re going to rig something invisible from the side but that feels like a pillow when he puts his face into it.” And, that’s what we did! You wouldn’t know; it’s total TV magic. (In Entertainment Weekly, she explained further: "It was so elaborate — it involved Spanx that we cut away and glued down and involved menstrual pads and two of those weird thongs."

How do you tell your family. Are you like, “Dad, sit this one out”?
No, also because of my wiring, I was like, “Any advice? What do you guys think in terms of what adhesive I should use?” I got some advice from my parents, because they too are veterans of the show, so their thinking has changed as well. I’d get a call from my mom and she’d be like, “Maybe if you took a thong and cut it away from the sides but you stuck it on in the front and the back it could work.” I was like, “Mom, I like your thinking.” Just your regular dinner conversation! We’re changing as a family; it’s lovely. 

Brian Williams
She’s always been an actress. For us, watching her is the family occupation and everybody has to remember it’s acting, no animals were harmed during the filming, and ideally nobody gets hurt. 

Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner
JK: When we were shooting that, I said I thought we had done all of the funny, crazy sex we could do, but … Part of that was improv on Ebon’s part, and we died laughing.
LD
: Allison was a good sport.
JK
: She was game — a down girl. She’s a serious actress and she takes it all seriously. She was brilliant.
LD
: Let me tell you this, when someone puts their face in your butt, whether there’s a barrier or not, their face is still in your butt. And she handled that with aplomb.
JK
: Even when someone you love puts their face in your butt, it might be weird!  

Ebon Moss-Bachrach
I hope this is okay to say, but honestly I think this scene comes about by Lena saying, “How can I put Allison through the ringer?" "How can I tighten the screws on Allison?” I think Lena gets a kick out of that, Lena does. 

Zosia Mamet
We know that Lena and our writers would never, ever make us do anything that didn’t serve the purpose of the story, so whenever she writes something that’s uncomfortable or scary, we just roll up our sleeves and we can’t wait to do it for her and for our show. It’s not just, you know, a little eatin’ out from behind. It matters! 

Jemima Kirke
I sat behind Allison and her dad in the first season [premiere] and I was going to puke; I was so nervous. I don’t even know him, but can you imagine [with this]?! Watching a kissing scene with my dad next to me is awful, let alone with you getting — whatever that’s called — motorboated in your ass!

Alex Karpovsky
Yeah! Let’s do it! Let’s go there! Let’s explore all the cavities. Yeah, 2015 is the Butt Year. There is some type of sexual revolution happening, and maybe that’s one of the cliffs or peaks that we need to begin to incorporate into our societal representation of this revolution, specifically in television. This could be the year of the anus.