Mary Queen of Scots director says she had to fight to include a ‘period in a period movie’

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Mary Queen of Scots director says she had to fight to include a ‘period in a period movie’


Saoirse Ronan in the new Mary Queen of Scots trailer
Saoirse Ronan in the new Mary Queen of Scots trailer

Mary Queen of Scots director Josie Rourke has revealed that she had to fight to include scenes showing Mary having her period and being given oral sex.

The period drama, which releases on January 18, charts the friendship and rivalry between Scottish Queen Mary, played by Saoirse Ronan, and Elizabeth I, portrayed by Margot Robbie.

Speaking to The Guardian, Rourke said she felt it was important to explore themes around women’s bodies and women’s pleasure.

However, she had to persuade producers to feature the aforementioned scenes.



A matter of time: Saoirse Ronan is excellent in Mary Queen of Scots and in with a great shot at another Best Actress nominationA matter of time: Saoirse Ronan is excellent in Mary Queen of Scots and in with a great shot at another Best Actress nomination

A matter of time: Saoirse Ronan is excellent in Mary Queen of Scots and in with a great shot at another Best Actress nomination

“I was fighting for a period in a period movie, those were instructive discussions about how honest we were being about women’s bodies and what they do, women’s pleasure and what that is, and a queen’s body as a political canvas,” she said.

“I felt that was something I hadn’t seen before, that I just really wanted to show.”



Margot Robbie stars as Queen Elizabeth I (Parisa Tag/Focus Features)Margot Robbie stars as Queen Elizabeth I (Parisa Tag/Focus Features)

Margot Robbie stars as Queen Elizabeth I (Parisa Tag/Focus Features)

The 46-year-old director insisted that although many female viewers won’t be able to relate to the film’s story of two royals fighting for the throne, they would understand a narrative about fighting “for the rights of our bodies”.

Including the period scene was important in order to normalise it, she said.



Saoirse in 'Mary Queen of Scots'Saoirse in 'Mary Queen of Scots'

Saoirse in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’

“We need to show this stuff. It does need normalising. A journalist asked me how hard it was to shoot the scene where Mary has her period, and my answer was, ‘Not hard at all!'” she added.

“There were six women in that room, and it was probably the thing that just most easily staged itself. But it does continue to freak some people out.”



Margot Robbie in Mary Queen Of ScotsMargot Robbie in Mary Queen Of Scots

Margot Robbie in Mary Queen Of Scots

The director worked with choreographer Wayne McGregor, who was movement director on the film, to stage the oral sex scene.

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Saoirse previously spoke about filming the scene with co-star Jack Lowden and said they approached it “like a dance”.

“We choreographed the whole thing so it felt like a dance. Jack and I are very comfortable with each other,” she said.

Read more: ‘I’ve always wanted to play Mary’ – Saoirse Ronan on filming in ‘difficult’ corsets

Saoirse Ronan jetting in for special Dublin screening of Mary Queen of Scots with audience Q&A 

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