When I started writing Charisma, I was really trying to avoid a love story between our heroine and Ben, her roommate/mentor. As a general rule I hate romantic B-plots in action movies, because they’re so trite and predictable, so I wanted to have the love between them be completely in the subtext and not addressed on screen.
But the more I write, the more glaring is the omission. While I like the fact that it’s all in the background, it’s becoming obvious to me that something in there has to be addressed, or else it’s going to hang out in the room like a really nasty fart. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that no producer or director would let the screenplay go to production without it being addressed somewhere.
One of the themes of this film is the dichotomy between nudity and sexiness; the nudity in strip clubs is so gratuitous that it stops being sexy, and were I to direct this film, one of the ways I would do it is to exploit that theme by having the nudity (in the strip clubs only) be so rampant that you stop noticing it, while the other moments in life – when Ben and Chelsea are having an honest conversation, or when Chelsea is seen doing something completely banal and human – would play up the sexiness.
I have no idea, yet, how I want to address it, so I was bouncing ideas off my wife, and as soon as I mentioned the idea of Chelsea and Ben having a sex scene, she went through the roof. “No, you can’t do that to Ben!” she exclaimed.
I was a little surprised, and not a little pleased by her reaction, because it meant that I’d created characters she cared about and hit on an idea that elicited an emotional reaction, which is what film is all about. So in spite of her protests that I was being a jerk, I continued down that train of thought.
If they were to have sex, I like the idea of an incident not unlike the Meredith/George debacle from Grey’s Anatomy. Because the stripper with the heart of gold who falls in love with the boy who’s trying to save her is cliche, and that’s the thing I have to avoid. On the other hand, I kind of like it when films hint at that love or sexuality, where they have an almost experience, and then decide not to, for whatever reason – which would be easy to manufacture given the vast amount of history between these two characters and the vast amount of baggage each of them carries. It would also set up some good internal conflict, and would make for a good Gap Between Expectation and Result and break the stripper cliche, since you’d expect sex to be no big deal to her, except that it is.
So I’m still thinking about it. In an early draft outline, I had Chelsea walk in on Ben while he was masturbating. I loved the idea, but it didn’t fit into the plot, so I replaced it with something else entirely, and now I get to bring it back. That excites me. But more than that, I like the fact that I’m opening up my second act , and giving myself more to not to say in those unspoken love scenes.