Note: The following article contains discussion of sexual misconduct that some readers may find upsetting.
Killing Eve star Jodie Comer has explained how she prepared to film the traumatic rape scenes which feature in her new movie, The Last Duel.
Ridley Scott's latest historical drama, which is set in 14th century France, stars Comer as Marguerite de Carrouges, a woman who accuses squire Jacques Le Gris (Star Wars actor Adam Driver) of rape. This leads her husband Jean de Carrouges (Bourne's Matt Damon) to challenge Jacques to trial by combat, in what became the last legally sanctioned duel in France's history.
With the film presenting events from different points of view, Comer had to act out more than one scene of Marguerite's rape, being careful to ensure that the scenes were necessary for the plot and not "gratuitous".
"It's funny because I always struggle when someone asks about my preparation for something, because I think a lot of how I kind of navigate is instinctive," she told Sky News.
"The night before we shot those scenes, Ridley, myself and Adam, we went to the studio, we got on the set and we blocked it out physically – there was no line reading, there was no acting, there was no emotion, it was purely to kind of set the movement of the scene, and then the next day we shot it.
"So a lot of it goes unsaid, honestly, I think it was always just trying to really make sure that this was an authentic portrayal, that it wasn't gratuitous, that it was moving the story forward and it was telling a story."
Director Scott added that the difficult scenes were a testament to the skill of the actors involved, saying that he felt that he had successfully cast the roles "really well".
"Once I say action, she's on her own and she's on her own moving with another actor," he said. "And therefore a lot of it becomes intuitive at that moment, and that's the fine-tuning of great acting, great actors."
The Last Duel has received mixed reviews since making its debut at the Venice Film Festival in September, with the "great performances" and "stunning cinematography" contrasted with the "lopsided and unwieldy" tone by different critics.
The Last Duel is due for release in UK and US cinemas on October 15.
If you've been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information from Rape Crisis England and Wales, who work towards the elimination of all forms of sexual violence and sexual misconduct, on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland's helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.
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