Can we all agree that the ideal husband is one who encourages you to hook up with Sebastian Stan, and even helps script scenarios that will allow you to do so? If so, then Melissa Rauch may be the world’s luckiest woman: In this weekend’s new comedy The Bronze, which she co-wrote with her husband Winston, Rauch plays a foul-mouthed former gymnast who gets it on with Stan’s Olympic coach in what is surely the young year’s wildest sex scene. Both characters bring all their athletic prowess to bear on each other, cartwheel-flipping and vaulting into each other’s naughty portions in the most R-rated floor exercise ever conceived. And with each gymnastic thrust, Rauch could count on both Stan and her husband to egg her on.
“Oh, Winston was so game throughout,” Rauch told Vulture recently in Los Angeles. “Anything for the sake of the movie! He would even be like, ‘I think we should do another take of that.’”
“And that was like the second or third day on set for me,” laughed Stan. “I remember thinking, ‘I’m really gonna get to know these people better.’”
So will the audience: While Stan is most famous for playing Bucky Barnes in the Captain America movies and Rauch has a steady job as Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory, The Bronze offers both actors a new way to cut loose, exemplified by the sort of graphic, over-the-top encounter you’d never see in their more family-friendly franchises. “We wrote it as ‘the most crazy epic gymnastic sex scene ever,’ said Rauch. “It really was a porno script, essentially. But Sebastian was so fantastic and he went for so much of it. He could have just said, ‘Have my body double do it,’ and instead he came to set in his robe and said, ‘Okay, let’s do this.’”
Rauch did, too, but for some of the more graphic moments, she selected as her body double a Cirque du Soleil dancer who had no hang-ups about the scene’s wild stunts (or nudity). “Every time I slammed into her,” Stan said, “I was like, ‘Oh my God, are you okay?’ And she was like, ‘Just go for it.’”
“I remember staring at her like a creepy old dude,” laughed Rauch, “wishing that she could body-double for me in every moment of life. At one point, I was like, ‘Do you want a robe?’ and she said, ‘I’m good, you’re gonna see everything anyway.’ And she was literally sitting there legs open, eating a sandwich.”
That’s the sort of unapologetic female behavior Rauch celebrates in The Bronze, where her character, Hope Ann Greggory, is a former Olympic darling desperately clinging to her 15 minutes of fame. Introduced masturbating to a VHS of her Olympic victory, Hope is a self-absorbed misanthrope whose heart has grown only the teensiest amount by the end of the movie — in other words, the sort of comic asshole that men typically get to play, not women.
Rauch ran up against that gendered double standard repeatedly while trying to find financing for The Bronze. “Oh, it was awful,” she said. “I remember we spoke to one producer who said, ‘I would never allow my daughter to talk to me that way,’ and we were like, ‘But we’re not writing this about you and your daughter.’ And we heard, ‘She’s just not likable enough, you need to water her down.’ It was really important to us that we didn’t do that.
“There are so many examples of male anti-heroes throughout film,” she continued, “and there’s not that many women, because there’s this pressure on women onscreen to be likable. And there’s a pressure in life to be likable! This character has been told to act a certain way and be a perfect, likable role, but now that she’s been cut off from that because of her injury, this is her emancipation. She’s gonna rebel against that and eat whatever the hell she wants and say whatever she wants to say.”
And bone whoever she wants to bone — though even Rauch, who’d planned to take part in a second sex scene, had her limits. “There was actually a scene that didn’t make it to final cut where I was supposed to have sex with a creepy guy in a bathroom stall,” she said, recalling her husband’s game attempts to cast that role.
“Winston called me from a Friendly’s and said, ‘I think I found Creepy Guy! He has a wooden tooth and he’s wiping the floor and I got his AOL address!’” Rauch laughed. “I was like, ‘Winston, this guy has to take your wife from behind. We need him to be a trained professional!’”