Emma Stone has responded to criticism of the graphic sex scenes in her latest hit film Poor Things.

The film—which has already earned Stone a best actress statue at the Golden Globes, where the film also won best musical or comedy motion picture—sees Stone’s character Bella Baxter brought back from the dead by a scientist who replaces her brain with the brain of a baby. Based on the 1992 Alasdair Gray novel of the same name and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the film follows Bella’s “fantastical evolution” as she embarks on a journey of discovery.

The film is raucous and unflinchingly candid, but has drawn criticism for its graphic sex and masturbation scenes, which show Bella learning her body and its power.

Stone defended the scenes in an interview with BBC Radio 4, in which host Samira Ahmed described them as “quite graphic,” adding: “I think it’s fair to say [these sorts of scenes are] unusual these days in Hollywood.”

Stone replied, “So much of this was about being true to Bella’s experience. [Sex] is obviously a huge part of her experience and her growth, as it is, I think, for most people in life. But I see it as just one aspect of many; her discovery of food, philosophy, travel and dance. Sex is another aspect.”

Atsushi Nishijima

She continued, “One of the things that we had talked about from very early on and I thought was extremely important was that Bella is completely free and without shame about her body. She doesn’t know to be embarrassed by these things or to cover things up or not dive into the full experience when it comes to anything.

“So for the camera to sort of shy away from that, or to say, ‘OK, well, we’ll just cut all of this out because our society functions in a particular way’… felt like a lack of being honest about who Bella is,” she added. “I’m not a person that just wants to be naked all the time, but I am someone who wants to honor the character as fully as I possibly can. That’s part of her journey, so who am I to say that should be shameful?”

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