'Blue Is The Warmest Color' Stars Discuss Lesbian Sex Scenes, Say Filming Was 'Horrible'

Actors Lea Seydoux, left, and Adele Exarchopoulos pose for photographers during a photo call for the film La Vie D'Adele at t
Actors Lea Seydoux, left, and Adele Exarchopoulos pose for photographers during a photo call for the film La Vie D'Adele at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

"Blue Is the Warmest Color," an erotic French flick about a lesbian couple's steamy and tumultuous relationship, might have won the top honor at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, but the stars of the movie say the artistic process was "horrible."

Actresses Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos spoke with The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern at Colorado's Telluride Film Festival about the sensual flick and its domineering director, Abdellatif Kechiche.

"The thing is, in France, it’s not like in the States," Seydoux said. "The director has all the power. When you’re an actor on a film in France and you sign the contract, you have to give yourself, and in a way you’re trapped."

"Blue Is the Warmest Color" (or, in French, "La Vie D'Adele Chapitres 1 et 2") tells the story of Emma and Adèle, two girls who enter into a passionate and all-consuming lesbian relationship. It is based on a 2010 graphic novel by Julie Maroh and premiered at Cannes in May to much fanfare, due in part to a 10-minute sex scene, which took 10 days to film and required the actresses to wear prosthetics. The explicit scene left Exarchopoulos feeling "embarrassed" and "ashamed," she told The Daily Beast, adding, "I’m not that familiar with lesbian sex."

During their more than five months on set, Kechiche reportedly would yell at the actresses and demand reshoots. In one scene, he made Seydoux hit Exarchopoulos repeatedly. Neither has plans to work with him again.

"[Kechiche] is a genius, but he’s tortured," Exarchopoulos told The Daily Beast. "We wanted to give everything we have, but sometimes there was a kind of manipulation, which was hard to handle. But it was a good learning experience for me, as an actor."

For his part, Kechiche previously told the U.K.'s Upcoming that telling a love story requires working with two actors "to the fullest." His ultimate goal is to convey images that are natural and as close to “the truth” of a character as possible. As for the sex scene, he tried to film it like a painting or sculpture, and capture the most beautiful elements.

Maroh, however, apparently didn't see much beauty there. In a blog post in May, she criticized Kechiche's approach to sex in the film, calling the love scene "a brutal and surgical display, exuberant and cold, of so-called lesbian sex, which turned into porn, and me feel very ill at ease."

"Blue Is the Warmest Color" ultimately won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. The NC-17 flick may be an Oscar contender, The Hollywood Reporter notes. It made its North American premiere at the Telluride Film Festival Aug. 29 in Colorado.