While Lena Dunham and "Girls" were taking over the Golden Globes on Sunday night, the HBO comedy's second season premiered on HBO and wasted no time getting back to its signature brand of awkward sex scenes. Minutes into the premiere, Hannah (Dunham) was hooking up with Sandy (guest star Donald Glover), while Marnie (Allison Williams) and the openly-gay Elijah (Andrew Rannells) have their own conflicted sexual encounter.
Williams and Rannells spoke with HuffPost TV about the latest twist in Elijah and Marnie's complicated relationship, which progressed from him bitch-slapping her in Season 1 to an impulsive attempt at sex that ultimately fell flat. They shared their secrets for getting through one of "Girls" many uncomfortable sex scenes, which included the use of a cock-sock, cake-scented body lotion and a healthy sense of humor.
"I'd never done a nude scene before. I'd never done a sex scene before. So the idea that you were gonna have a bad sex scene, where you also had to sort of fluff yourself, I was like, 'How the fuck?'" Rannells told HuffPost TV. "Allison was my first, and she could not have been nicer about it ... She made me very relaxed."
Williams said she could relate to Rannells' "first time" sex scene concerns. "There's a lot to take in. You don't know what the details of it are going to be. How many people are around? What is it going to feel like and look like?" she remembered. "Once you know that drill, it becomes like ... 'Oh, Thursday, I have to be naked next to someone I'm not dating' ... You learn that it's just being light about it ... Once you realize that, it immediately liberates you ... and that also helps the performances too."
Williams' comfort level with such scenes has increeased since Season 1. Filming the scene with Rannells was "so funny to shoot," she said. "There's only one way to get through those scenes, and it's laughter -- that's it. No amount of logistics and nude coverings and number of crew members, nothing can affect it other than sense of humor."
She added that it also helped that they "borrowed lotion from my makeup guys, so we both smelled like a piece of cake."
While shooting the scene, Rannells was looking out for Williams, who has gotten through several "Girls" sex scenes while eschewing Dunham-levels of nudity. "I think I properly protected her nakedness," he recalled. "I mean, I was also trying to cover my penis. It's like really degrading -- you wear a cock-sock and you just tie it around yourself and it's pretty humiliating; although then I became wildly comfortable with it at a certain point. I was just like standing around. I remember Lena saying to me at one point, 'Do you want to put on pants?' And I was like, 'Oh, yeah, yeah, of course.'"
Williams understood why, in a moment of weakness, the characters might try to sleep together. "There was an attraction ... just aesthetically. But I also think they both needed someone else to be attracted to them, for different reasons and it's in the conversation leading up to it," Williams said. "He says he feels weird about his relationship because his boyfriend pays for everything ... and Marnie's talking about Charlie and Audrey, and trying to throw that off like it's not a big deal, like she didn't just get wasted because of seeing them at a party together ... And then they there are, and he punches her in the boob and then that happens."
Rannells, an openly gay actor simultaneously playing gay roles on "Girls" and "The New Normal", initially approached the storyline with some trepidation. Reflecting on the fact that Elijah has now had sex with two of the four "Girls," he said, "It was not my personal experience coming out, I didn't do that, but I know a lot of folks who did. I asked some of my gay friends before I did it, 'Well, do you think this is realistic?' And they all said yes ... particularly at that age. I'm 34 -- I'm not going to get drunk and stick it in a girl right now. It's not gonna happen. But at 22 or 23, when you're still sorting out identity and all that bullshit, I think it's more of an option. You're like, 'Well, why not? Give it a shot.'"
"Girls" airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.