Julianne Moore on why the sex scenes in her new steamy period drama were crucial to bringing the story to life

Mary & George
(Image credit: SKY UK)

There's an ongoing debate in the world of TV and film about whether sex scenes are necessary to on-screen storytelling. Julianne Moore’s new steamy period drama Mary & George falls firmly on one side of the debate, featuring its fair share of intimate scenes. 

Set in the Jacobean era, the historical psychodrama from Sky relies on them to tell the true story of royal seduction, and as Moore and her co-star Nicholas Galitzine tell GamesRadar+, these sex scenes are more than important, they’re "integral".

"I think they're really integral," George actor Galitzine tells us. "I mean, certainly, for my character, it's his currency. It's how he dominates people. It's how he maneuvered through the court, through the king, through his time in Spain."

Galitzine continues by mentioning that the scenes serve a purpose in the script, and without them, the story wouldn't make a whole lot of sense. Indeed, the series follows his character George Villers as he is coaxed by his mother into seducing King James I of England to become his all-powerful lover. For George, what he had to offer sexually determined his value. As a young man, instead of a fully-fledged education, his mother sent him away to learn how to become more desirable and sexually advanced, and so the art of sex and seduction is what he was trained in. 

"I think not having them feel unnecessary to the story was obviously incredibly important." said the Bottoms star. "I think the way they were shot and the purpose that they sold within the script was really important."

For Moore, sex also serves a purpose for her character. Although the story is adapted from the fictional novel ‘The King's Assassin’ by Benjamin Woolley, her character Mary Villers was a real person. As a woman in the 1600s, Mary had very little power and she is said to have been penniless when she married her first husband, who was thought to be abusive to her. But to provide for herself and her children, she used her sexuality and charm to secure marriages as a source of income and to climb up societal rankings.

Moore explains: "She was a woman who had no agency, no autonomy, and no way forward, except through her relationship with men. She really felt that she certainly found a way to advance her children and advance herself in society." 

Mary & George is available to watch now on Sky Atlantic and is streaming on NOW in the UK, and will hit Starz on April 5 in the US. For more, check out our rankings of the best TV shows of all time, or keep up to date with upcoming TV shows heading your way this year.  

Editorial Associate, GamesRadar+

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for SFX and Total Film online. I have a Bachelors Degree in Media Production and Journalism and a Masters in Fashion Journalism from UAL. In the past I have written for local UK and US newspaper outlets such as the Portland Tribune and York Mix and worked in communications, before focusing on film and entertainment writing. I am a HUGE horror fan and in 2022 I created my very own single issue feminist horror magazine.