Secrets from the set
We live for porn ’taches – and you’d better believe we live for James Franco with a porn ’tache! Thankfully, the HBO gods – who sure know a hit series when they’re pitched one! – have come to the party, with the actor sporting one in a grungy, dark and twisted new TV series à la Big Little Lies. Set in the ’70s, The Deuce hones in on the seedy streets of New York York, where hookers, pimps, bart bartenders, cops and hustlers notnot-so-harmoniously coexist. Aft After a political effort to clean up the streets forces the pimps a and prostitutes indoors, mob-connected twins V Vincent and Frankie Martino (p (played by James) and a p prostitute named Candy ( Maggie Gyllenhaal) attempt to reshape and legitimise the porn industry, taking it from under-the-counter to a billion-dollar industry. “Everyone realises that the money about to be made is going to be real. What happened to those people who were the pioneers and who became caught up in it and seized it aggressively and willingly is really fascinating,” says co-creator David Simon – who also gave us The Wire and the post-katrina, New Orleansset drama Treme.
“I was much less interested in whether porn was good or bad.”
Here’s everything you need to know about The Deuce... IT’S BASED ON REALITY “My character Vincent is based on an actual guy who had a twin brother,” spills James.
However, James never got the chance to meet the man – a New York bartender – as he passed away before they even shot the pilot in 2015.
But he reckons his IRL counterpart would be happy with his portrayal, as he’d always dreamed of his story being made into a TV series.
“[He had] 90 hours of recordings he did on his own in his living room, dreaming of meeting someone like the creator of The Wire to come and t tell his story,” says James.
Even Candy, a prostitutet turned-porn-producer, comes f from a place of authenticity.
“She’s a mixture of about two p people,” says David. “There was a Candy who was a part-time b bartender at Vincent’s bar who a actually started as a prostitute/ s street walker.
“There was [also] a woman n named Candida Royalle... She was somebody who found some agency within the world of porn. [She] started as a performer but became the director and tried, at some critical junctures, to create something maybe a little bit more egalitarian.”
TheTh actor, who’s as comfortable beh behind the camera as he is in f front, helms a couple of epis episodes in Season One. But he
says it was Maggie’s steamy moments that provided the real magic.
“In addition to being just an incredible actress, [Maggie] is fearless, and she really led the charge with how she handled the sex scenes and how she handled herself, and really set the template for everyone else,” he spills.
“If I didn’t have someone like her, I think it would have been really, really hard to engage in those scenes, but she just made it so easy. She’s fearless.”
MAGGIE’S A TOTAL PRO
Ms Gyllenhaal sure did her homework, visiting an adult movie set and getting tips from sexperts like legendary former sex worker and porn star Annie Sprinkle.
“She had some very simple, helpful insights,” spills Maggie. “How many people do you f**k a night? What do you do if it’s really cold?”
She was also given a list of ’70s flicks set in New York to watch... and a bunch of smut.
“I thought I’d seen some porn – 1970s porn was way better!” she says.
What’s more, the actress – who enjoyed small-screen success in the 2014 miniseries The Honourable Woman – says her character Eileen will open audiences’ eyes to how similar porn is to other forms of acting.
“All the sex you see her have, it’s a performance,” she says.
IT HAS SOME UNEXPECTED GAMEOFTHRONES TIES
Having worked on Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Game Of Thrones and Westworld, director Michelle Maclaren who helms both the season opener and the finale – sees a link between all these hit shows and The Deuce.
“I find it really interesting when characters seem to be one thing on the surface and we get to find out who they really are underneath,” she explains.
Viewers can also expect some seriously raw sex scenes – along the lines of what Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo, or Jaime and Cersei Lannister, gave us in Got’s first season.
“There’s not a lot of fantasy make-believe going on,” she says. “Just hardcore real people having sex.”
As for nailing those sleazy ’70s porn vibes?
“It was a massive collaboration inspired by research from the ’70s, both real photographs and movies, many shot by Martin Scorsese,” adds Michelle.
Indeed, one critic said things are so authentic, you feel “like you’d get an infection on set”.
Er, we’ll use protection then!
The Deuce premieres 11am (encore 8.30pm) Monday on Showcase
Maggie and James hit the small screen as pioneers of porn!
The Wire’s Gbenga Akinnagbe plays pimp Larry Brown
Chris Coy (right) from The Walking Dead plays Vincent’s kindred spirit The Leftovers’