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Why there’s no sex in “Ruby Sparks”

Ruby Sparks

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By Jennifer Vineyard

One of Ruby’s first lines in “Ruby Sparks” is, “I missed you in bed last night.” That statement shocks Calvin, not the least of which because Ruby was, up until that moment, a figment of his imagination. But it’s a statement that could also be made by the film’s audience, since despite being a romantic dramedy starring a real-life couple, “Ruby Sparks” is short on sex. Sure, Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan kiss, and they even walk around in some scenes with few clothes on, but there’s no actual sex scene for this pair. This is intentional, the filmmakers and lead actor told IFC.

“I have no problem kissing Zoe,” Dano said. “But I don’t think the film needed a sex scene.”

“We talked about it a lot,” said co-director Jonathan Dayton, “and ultimately, we felt like this film didn’t really require a lot of explicit sex. For the most part, it was better to leave that to the theater of the mind, than to show it.”

“One of the things we were impressed with Zoe’s script was how it covered a pretty large territory pretty quickly,” said co-director Valerie Faris. “It didn’t feel like we were missing anything [not to have a sex scene], because I love all the places it goes, so we never really lived too long in any one place.”

The closest the film comes to a nude scene is when a sleazy Steve Coogan convinces Kazan to strip down to her underwear to join him for a late-night swim, but as soon as she does, Dano interrupts the two. “Steve, we love and have loved,” Faris said. “He only came in for a couple of days, but he made that character so much more dimensional because of all he brings to it.”

Plus, Coogan’s recent turns as a philanderer in “Our Idiot Brother” and “The Trip” helped put the image to mind of what he would have done, if he only had a chance. “It’s a gift!” Dayton laughed. “Unfortunately, he just has that quality,” Faris said. “But he’s a super great guy, and he’s in pretty good shape, too. He was in his underwear in the pool and six in the morning, and I felt so bad, because he had to get right back on the plane right after that.”

In lieu of sex scenes, the film concentrates on the magical romance between Dano’s writer Calvin and his creation Ruby (Kazan’s character), who materializes in real life after he’s written her on the page. Their relationship, as it is, is tightly controlled by whatever Calvin types, including her every mood; if she starts caring more about her career, all he has to do is type, “Ruby misses Cal desperately,” and she comes running back.

“We wanted the magical aspects of it to have a romantic high, and be wonderful to watch,” Dano said. “But we wanted the emotions to be real enough so that you would be invested and it feels real, because Ruby is real, even if she came from who-knows-where.”

“Once we were there, it was just about Calvin and Ruby,” Dano continued. “I think Zoe choose what she thought was best for the characters, and I don’t know if she considered our relationship while writing it. I think we would have felt self-conscious if the film felt like our real life, you know? I wouldn’t have wanted our real relationship in the film, and she knows me well enough to know that I would be pissed off if that happened. But the story has a life of its own, and it ended up being a good thing that we could bring an intimacy and a chemistry to the characters for their own sake.”

Still, for fun’s sake, Faris and Dayton joked that they could revisit the sex scene idea for a viral video campaign, and finally “take advantage” of Kazan and Dano’s relationship. “If ever there were a time when we could have shot a scene, we had a real-life couple!” Dayton laughed.

“Maybe we can use it for some ads,” Faris suggested.

“The ‘Ruby Sparks’ sex tape,” Dayton said.

“Oops! This might just leak out,” Faris laughed. “Good idea.”

Will you be seeing “Ruby Sparks” this weekend? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

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A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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