“I'm a terrible porn actress – Awful.'”
Gugino returns to the complicated, sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious story of the well-intentioned Luxx, part of a planned trilogy of micro-budgeted but star-powered films (co-stars include Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Timothy Olyphant, Connie Britton, and Josh Brolin) from maverick writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez. But she quickly discovered that the San Fernando Valley’s film industry might not have embraced her talents in the same way Hollywood’s has.
“We watched a bunch of porn trailers, because the great thing about porn trailers is that they can't show anything and it's hilarious because it's just bad dialogue and looks and winks,” Gugino explains. “But I did realize my propensity for subtlety in doing those particular sequences, because I would look at playback and I would be like, 'It's too subtle. It doesn't read.' I realized that the largeness of the responses and everything has to be so heightened. It was a fun experiment, definitely, but everything got pushed to its limit.”
Before Gugino-obsessed fanboys break into a sweat, it should be noted that the actress’ porn-y scenes are limited to send-ups of the trailers. In fact, her only nude scene comes at a crucial dramatic moment when Elektra has a vision of the Virgin Mary (played by Julianne Moore) while in the bathtub.
“We wanted her to be much more like a little girl,” says Gugino of the sequence. “We wanted her to be stripped of any of the kind of attachments, because you see all the fake porn stuff that we do in the movie. That's obviously more kind of lascivious – and humorous, too – but physically it's very non-revealing. She needed to be bare of the classic look of the porn star – I just wanted her at some point to be unencumbered by the fake lashes, sort of stripped down so that she could have this moment where she breaks down, where she's really kind of starting over for real. So it was really intentional.”
Gugino thinks that perceptions of the increasingly mainstream world of adult film are shifting dramatically. “I actually worked with Sasha Gray [on ‘Entourage’] after I finished this,” she says. “She's a smart, extremely well-read, extremely film-literate person, and we didn't really talk that much about that aspect of her profession. Obviously there's Jenna Jameson, who's much more of a businesswoman; there are the people who have had sexual abuse in the past and probably should've not chosen it for necessarily healthy reasons; and there are others who seem very happy to have chosen it and are totally okay about it.”
“I don't think that porn stars need to be idolized, nor do I think that they need to be brushed under the rug or dismissed,” says Gugino. “They're all individual human beings and each one has a different story to tell. So I just like the idea that anybody who has a preconceived notion about what this movie is because it's about a porn star will come and see it and that will be completely redefined.”