Wednesday night saw the New York premiere of “Addicted,” director Bille Woodruff’s adaptation of the popular erotic novel and ubiquitous subway reading material. Written by the prolific novelist Zane (aka Kristina Roberts), “Addicted” is the story of Zoe, a happily married woman battling a compulsive sexual disorder that drives her to continually seek out men who are not her husband for all sorts of carnal encounters.
The selling point here, of course, is that the sex scenes are graphic and plentiful. So it was a little awkward for star Boris Kodjoe to watch the film with his wife.
“It’s tough. We talked about it, she read the script, she’s an amazing actress, she’s been with Denzel (Washington), Eddie Murphy, she knows what it’s about. But still, it’s awkward,” he told Variety at the premiere’s afterparty at the Jade Hotel.
Kodjoe’s wife is actress Nicole Ari Parker, with whom he starred on the Showtime series “Soul Food.” She understands. “She just finished Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra,’ which has one of the most famous love scenes in the world, and I watched her in that. It’s never, honestly, comfortable. When I watch her movies, I usually get up and make a sandwich when those scenes come up.”
Kodjoe has known Woodruff since the director cast him, then an unknown actor and college student, in the video for TLC’s “Red Light District.” (“I was the guy with the boa.”) They’ve been close ever since, and that sort of trust is important when you’re asking your friend to get naked for your film.
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“I always like doing stuff that is taboo, and sexual addiction certainly is. All I wanted to know was Bille’s vision. I trusted him implicitly,” he said. “I’ve known him for 20 years, I knew he would allow us to be vulnerable and open.”
That said, the actor then admitted that “sex scenes are always awkward. You’re dealing with a very technical situation, lots of people in the room, cameras, lights, ‘you can’t put shadow on her face,’ ‘you can touch her here, can’t touch her there,’ and I want to make (co-star Sharon Leal) feel comfortable and protect her at the same time. But you know, it always turns into a giggle fest.
“We’re naked, whatever, everyone knows what we look like, it’s all good, after a while you just laugh.”
For his part, Kodjoe’s director and friend did everything in his power to make it as normal as possible, even if there’s only so much one can do in this sort of a situation.
“I storyboarded all the sex scenes in detail long before we started shooting, and I went over each scene with the actors and my DP, so we were already prepared way ahead of time,” Woodruff told Variety. “They knew what my vision was. So honestly, I tried to do as much prep, and talk about it advance so much that when we started shooting, we didn’t really have to talk about it.
“I tried to clear the set as much as possible, and just said, ‘action’ and really tried to get into it organically, and make it seem not like a big deal as much as possible.”
Woodruff got his start making music videos for the likes of R. Kelly, Toni Braxton and Britney Spears, before transitioning into the film with the 2003 film “Honey.” He then went on to direct 2009’s “Bring It On: Fight to the Finish.” He told Variety that he wanted to make “Addicted” to “show something that people weren’t expecting” from him.
“I was really familiar with Zane’s books, because I have cousins, and all the girls that I knew read ‘Addicted’ when it came out. (Zane) has legions of fans. And they’re really rabid fans, so there was pressure, because when you adapt a book into a movie, you can’t fit everything in, you don’t want to make fans of the book upset,” he told Variety, adding that he made an effort during the making of the film to stay off line and not read anyone’s opinions about how he should handle the film. But now that the film is locked and loaded, “I can’t resist looking, but there’s nothing I can do about it now because I’ve already done the movie.”
Lionsgate and Code Black Films will release “Addicted” on Oct. 10.
(Pictured: Tyson Beckford, Boris Kodjoe, Sharon Leal and William Levy at the “Addicted” afterparty)