Karl Glusman knew he was taking on a unique acting challenge when he signed up for Gaspar Noe’s “Love,” an explicit look at the romantic and sexual life of a couple shot featuing full nudity and actual intercourse. But at least Glusman has gotten over the idea that audience members who meet him are just thinking about him naked.
You’re playing a character that seems so in line with your director.
I mean, he wears a jacket to interviews that I literally wore in the movie. I was often wearing Gaspar’s T-shirts, which were unwashed and smelling of him. Sometimes he didn’t like the jeans I was wearing so he’d say, “Let’s switch pants real quick.” He was often stealing my belts. I was wearing his clothes and not trying to do an imitation of him but trying to channel things that he would say. The movie, for him, is a very personal piece. He wanted to make something that really depicted in a very honest way the way he has experienced loving relationships and heartbreak.
So with these T-shirts, what kind of smell are we talking about?
The man doesn’t wear deodorant, so we’re talking funky.
Gaspar has quite a reputation. How did you find him?
I know at times he has this reputation for being a sick, deranged, provocateur, but he really is a sweet guy. I had some reservations in the beginning, and when I first went to Paris I was a little creeped out by him because I thought I was meeting some, like, dirty porno director. But then I saw how he was with his godson, this child, and that was kind of the moment where I thought, “This guy’s OK.”
Speaking of reservations, how much did you have to get over before taking it on?
A lot, a lot. I never was comfortable undressing in front of people. I never have before, this was the first time — and probably the last, at least for a long time. I think I covered my bases. (laughs)
Unless people start going, “Get that guy, he’ll get naked.”
I know! That’s the thing, I don’t want to be that box of cereal. You want to be surprising and different in every role. I definitely had to work up the courage to do this because I had colleagues and friends who said, “This is going to be a disaster for your career if you do this.” But it felt daring, and as an actor you want to do things that are out of your comfort zone. I looked up the definition of pornography when thinking about this, and I found something that said it’s primary purpose is for sexual arousal and for masturbation. I don’t think you can really call our movie a porno unless people are masturbating in the theater. I mean, that would be flattering if they were, but I haven’t heard of that happening yet.
Is weird talking to people after they’ve seen the movie because they’ve basically seen your junk? Like, “Are they thinking about it?”
And usually they are. (laughs) They number of people who have seen me naked used to be almost zero, and now it’s exponentially grown. I used to feel like I was at a bit of a disadvantage, but now it feels like an icebreaker. People are like, “I feel like I know you so well now.”
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