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‘Bound’ Stars Downed Tequila Before Filming Lesbian Love Scenes

‘Bound’ Stars Downed Tequila Before Filming Lesbian Love Scenes

What’s the secret to Bound‘s steamy, same-sex love scenes? Tequila and truffles, it turns out.

Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly joined The Hollywood Reporter‘s It Happened in Hollywood podcast for an episode about the making of the 1996 noir — the pulpy, lesbian thriller that served as a debut for Lilly and Lana Wachowski, three years before The Matrix made the director siblings household names.

Its frank depictions of gay sex were considered risky at the time. “Gina knew right away that she wanted to do it,” says Tilly, who plays Violet, girlfriend to a mobster (Joey Pantoliano) who falls for Gershon’s Corky, an ex-con. “But I was trepidatious. The script was one of the best scripts you ever read. But then you think two first-time directors, Dino De Laurentiis as the producer — we could easily get into a Roger Corman sort of arena. I was a little bit nervous.”

But Tilly had nothing to be worried about. The Wachowskis had innate talent for creating technically astounding cinema on a shoestring.

“I get this tingly feeling sometimes when I’m in the presence of really great directors,” says Gershon of her first meeting with the Wachowskis, noting that she asked specific questions about how they intended to bring their own screenplay to life. “Their answers were so clever and so visionary and so different. I thought they were incredibly gifted and like secret geniuses.”

Gershon had just wrapped Showgirls, the hotly buzzed-about follow up feature from Basic Instinct director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas.

But that shoot did not go as Gershon had anticipated — she likens the set to a “Britney Spears concert” — and she warned her management the film could wind up going sideways (which it did, of course, becoming a laughingstock before gaining a cult following appreciative of its over-the-top camp theatrics).

Recalls Gershon, “I said, ‘Listen, [Showgirls] isn’t going to be what you think it’s going to be. You need to find me a movie right now that shows them a real actress.’ And so I wanted to go in on Bound just because I loved the writing.”

Over the protests of her agents, who thought the lesbian content would kill her career, she signed on to play Violet.

The pair had electrifying screen chemistry — and broke the ice with some booze.

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“The day of the first kissing scene, Gina showed up to my trailer with a bottle of tequila. I said, ‘Tequila — what a good idea!’” Tilly recalls.

“And chocolates!” adds Gershon, who remains close to Tilly almost 30 years later. “You always forget that I also brought you chocolates. I was the perfect date.”

Bound has recently joined the Criterion Collection with a 4K restoration of the unrated international version supervised by cinematographer Bill Pope.

Learn more about its production on this latest edition of It Happened in Hollywood.

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