Ema star reveals how 'brave' director Pablo Larrain helped through difficult sex scenes

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Ema, the new film from Pablo Larrain, is as full of intrigue as his previous works. The film centres on a powerhouse woman, Ema, who will do whatever necessary to get what she wants from life. Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, the movie’s star Mariana Di Girolamo, revealed how some of the trickier scenes were made easier with the help of her director.



Ema is not just a powerhouse woman, but she is a woman of action.

She uses her body to get to where she needs to go, whether that is through dance, in her role as a professional dancer, or through sex, of which she has a great deal throughout the film.

For any actress, this is a difficult thing, but according to Di Girolamo, it is even more difficult to broach these topics in a “conservative” Chilean context.

She said: “I loved acting the role… to be able to act as a woman like that was really… I love her really, but I would be afraid of her too.

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Ema actress reveals how ‘brave’ director Pablo Larrain helped her through difficult sex scenes (Image: MUBI)

“I admire her bravery, her vigour, she knows what she wants… and whether you agree or not with her actions the way she moves with so much grace, you are left drooling at her and left in awe of her.”

She added: “And we have to put this film in context, this is a film about Chile.

“It’s still a conservative country, we don’t have abortion here… so it’s something very brave that Pablo [Larrain] did.

“Gael [Garcia Bernal, her co-star] and Pablo have worked together a lot previously… so for me it was a lot easier than I imagined…

“Pablo is a very quiet character. He doesn’t give a lot of direction or pointers.

“I don’t like to improvise at all but he was accommodating of that… he looked after us, he looked after me where there were difficult scenes like sex scenes… he had wonderful people around him.”

In the film, Di Girolamo plays Ema, a dancer who we first meet trying to get information about a young boy who is set to be adopted.

As the story unfolds, we learn more about Ema’s relationship with the boy, and the desperate measures she will undertake in order to try and get him back by
her side.

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Mariana Di Girolamo in Ema (Image: MUBI)

Ema also goes through a great deal of exploration in her own right, going from dancing in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring to doing reggaeton, a youthful, grinding-based dance style.

It would be fair to say Ema goes through a Baby-like transformation from Dirty Dancing, yet far raunchier and with a lot more manipulation in the process.

Speaking about getting into the dance, Di Girolamo said: “I’m not a professional dancer but I’ve always used it to express myself through dance.

“Whether that’s going out I dance to hip hop or whatever it might be, I really need it… I even took a couple of classes and I really liked them…

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Mariana Di Girolamo and Gael Garcia Bernal in Ema (Image: MUBI)

Nonetheless it was a real challenge because I had to look like a professional.

“So I actually took pilates classes to improve my posture and ballet class as well, but the first scene I had to learn was the Rite of Spring by Stravinsky, but then there was also the other side where I had to learn the reggaeton which comes from a different generation.”

As well as learning to dance, Di Girolamo’s preparation was unlike her work in TV as well (she is best known for her work in Chilean soap Forgive Our Sins.)

She said: “The process was quite an interesting one really.

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Mariana Di Girolamo in Ema (Image: MUBI)

“I didn’t have a lot of experience in film but normally there would be character development and rehearsals but that didn’t happen in this case.

“What happened here was we worked from the outside in, so we’d start with her hair, her look, her dance moves, and then from that we would know her character more.

“Something I tried to work on to develop was the internal fire she has coupled with this external calm. I think she is a really dangerous, sensual woman…”

Ema is certainly a dangerous woman, who really will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

EMA is available to preview for free on mubi.com/ema for 24 hours on May 1, and will be available on MUBI from May 2

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