Joaquin Phoenix, winner of the Actor in a Leading Role award for "Joker," poses in the press room during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California Source: Rachel Luna/Getty Images

Out Director Todd Haynes Spills Steamy Details about 'Sexually Explicit' Gay Joaquin Phoenix Movie

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Openly gay director Todd Haynes opened up with more hints about his upcoming gay romance starring Joaquin Phoenix, a film set in the 1930s that Haynes says will be "sexually explicit."

Interviewed by Variety while attending the Deauville American Fim Festival, where his new movie "May December" was featured, Haynes offered a brief overview of the planned feature and revealed the surprising news that Phoenix was pushing for the story's sexy stuff.

"It's a love story between two men set in the '30s that has explicit sexual content," Haynes told the entertainment outlet, adding, "or at least it challenges you with the sexual relationship between these two men."

"One is a Native American character and one is a corrupt cop in LA," Haynes went on to say, before adding: "They have to flee L.A. ultimately and go to Mexico."

"But it's a love story and with a strong sexual component," the out "Poison" director detailed. "And what was so remarkable is that it all started with Joaquin having some ideas and some thoughts and just questions and images. And he came to me and said, 'Does this connect to you at all?' And I was like, 'Yeah, this is really interesting.' And so we would just be on the phone talking and it developed into a script."

Adding that he "brought my wonderful, brilliant friend John Raymond, with whom I collaborated with on 'Mildred Pierce' into the process" of creating the script, Haynes disclosed that it was Phoenix who was "pushing it further into more dangerous territory, sexually."

Haynes' "May December" stars Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman, and is "[l]oosely based on the story of Mary Kay Letourneau, the teacher who had an affair with her 6th grade student," Variety noted of the director's current film.

Pushing back against "a reactionary strain that comes out of the conservative parties in America and throughout Europe" as well as those parties' "ease in using a kind of language against minorities and targeting minorities," the "Carol" director told Variety that the thematic complexity of "May December" was similar to "what I was exposed to when I was young. I guess my parents trusted my ability to deal with complicated themes," and decried the "unfortunate trend in the United States right now with parents who are deciding that exposing young people to complicated themes, or just basic themes about life like queerness and the fact that we have a very complicated racial history in America, will make people feel bad about being the white Americans."

"It's, like, completely reactionary," Haynes declared. "And stifling for the minds of young people who need to learn how to look at things that are difficult and complicated."

"'May December has already earned awards buzz since world premiering in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was bought by Netflix," Variety added.

Haynes told the outlet that he was hoping to contain costs on the Joaquin Phoenix project in order to be able to "have all the freedom to do it the way we want."

"I'd love to use many of the people I just finished working with on 'May December' because the atmosphere and the experience of making 'May December' was so superb," Haynes said, adding that "Everyone is already engaged on this next one and can't wait. We have everybody already doing stuff on it, research stuff."

"And yeah, we're talking to Mexican producers, co-producers," the director continued, saying that he "might want to shoot the whole thing in Mexico, so that we can build our Los Angeles of the '30s there, and stretch our resources and work with the amazing craftspeople of Mexican cinema. That would be my dream."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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