Emily Meade Talks the Final Season of HBO’s The Deuce

Emily Meade Talks the Final Season of HBO's The Deuce 7
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You have been such a champion for women using their voices in this industry. What are some other changes you would like to see implemented? 

I went with Alicia Rodis and other intimacy coordinators directly to SAG, and we presented our case for why it should be a SAG rule to have somebody on set if there is going to be sexual simulation. For me, that in and of itself will trickle down and lead to evolution in other little issues. For example, I’ve lost certain jobs because I get asked, not directly by the director or the producers but by casting, if I’m willing to do full-frontal nudity, and when I said I wanted to have a conversation about it, I didn’t wind up getting the job. I think having an intimacy coordinator as a part of the new system would automatically change the way that was handled because the conversation about these things would be required, so it wouldn’t be an issue.

So many roles when you go to audition for them say nudity required or sexuality required, and obviously there are many roles that do require that to tell the story, but that’s always been a really scary, daunting thing when we don’t know what that means. You have to blindly sign on to even be seen for a part. That is something I’ve always been disturbed by. It will obviously be a process, and I’m sure there will be pushback, but if having an intimacy coordinator and having these conversations becomes part of the system, I think that’s just going to naturally change a lot of these issues. So I’m hoping this is not just about having an intimacy coordinator, but it has a butterfly effect on how the rest of these things are run. 

Going back to the final season of The Deuce, what are some of your fondest memories working with the incredible cast? 

It’s been so fun, and I think each season it got more and more fun because not only did we get to know each other more, but I actually just think even the things we got to do, the performances became more fun. It started in this very bleak world, and we were all just trying to figure out that world and each other, and by the end, it’s cheesy to say because everyone says it, but we really did become a family and there really was that symbiotic connection that we all had. I feel so fortunate that all the people I’ve gotten to work with have been so wonderful. And especially this season being in the ’80s, there was something about that that was so much more humorous, just like the goofy clothes and the music. I think it really helped to balance the darkness of the show. We’ve all known each other for five years now, and seeing everyone walk around in their silly wigs and costumes looking kind of ridiculous was nice. 

What are you taking away from playing Lori for five years? 

I think I’m taking away a lighter load in a lot of ways. A lot of [this role] was a huge catharsis for me. The strange thing of art imitating life and life imitating art and how I realized we needed this intimacy coordinator and that this is something important was by having such a high volume of sexuality on the show and realizing my own personal issues. I had to disassociate a lot in my life and my career and disconnect from myself sexually and emotionally in that way to allow myself to be more in touch with my feelings and get more sensitive. I see how much it has transformed my intimacy in real life and my relationship with my own sexuality. I do connect to that desire when you are young to have sexual power and to be seen in that way and feeling like it’s your only source of power in the world. And so to kind of morph through that with Lori and come out the other end of it very different and having a very different perspective than I started has been hugely transformative. I hope after this I play some lighter, more humorous characters.

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