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Inside the emotional scene 'Sex Education's' creator wrote to face her own sexual assault

Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Ezeudu: (We were) being kinder to each other, because we knew what was coming. It was really focused as well. We knew what we were going to do and making sure we treated the material with the respect it deserved.

Wood: From the moment I walked down and saw Emma — when Aimee says, "What are you doing here?" and then (Maeve's) like, "We're getting the bus" — I had to really hold it back because it was so emotional. I'd spent so long with Aimee as a character, and I know her so well, and I love her so much. I made sure I was staying super present in the moment and connecting to Emma.

Taylor: The shot of Aimee in the bus is just a tracking shot down the center. The bus is moving. And then we did it again and changed lenses and pushed in until it was almost a clean close-up on Aimee. She was ready for it. I don't think we talked about it. We knew what we wanted.

Ezeudu: We held hands at one moment, and we had this squeeze, and we all felt the pulse. That meant we were supporting each other.

Wood: As much as the girls being there is a lovely thing, I wanted to make sure that (Aimee) is still afraid of getting on that bus. This has been a huge journey for her, and I knew how symbolic that was.

Taylor: We ran out of road, so the last frame you see of Aimee, before it cuts to credits, is the last frame of usable footage, because then the bus has to stop and reset. Every time I watched it, hairs on the back of my neck would stand up. It felt right and it felt powerful. But what inevitably happens if you send a good scene to an exec, they'll be like, "Oh, can we have more of that good scene?" So they said, "Can we just stay with Aimee for two or three more seconds before we cut?" And it's like, "That is literally it." That scares me a lot when you don't have options, but the relief was that it was enough.

Wood: There was kind of no acting required, to be honest. I don't remember thinking about it. I didn't plan anything. I just saw Emma, and then it just kind of happened.

We didn't do that many takes of it, either, because we wanted it to feel authentic. I'd done that story for the whole of Season 2. I'd spent months with it, so Ben — he calls me Woody — was like, "Woody, just go for it."

Taylor: It had this level of catharsis that we almost couldn't cope with. There's something about the images and the iconography of this and it being the last beat of the story. It transcended your average work day.

 

Wood: As actors, we were all holding back tears — especially because it was one of the last scenes we filmed. It was a picture wrap on loads of us, and so it made it doubly emotional. We were all just ready to f— burst into tears. ... When it happened, everyone was like, "This is the moment of Season 2 that everybody's gonna remember."

Season 2 of "Sex Education" premiered on Jan. 17, 2020. Within weeks, countless headlines, social media posts, poems and think pieces inspired by the final bus scene had surfaced online.

Wood: The day (Season 2) came out, my Instagram was all about that scene. I knew that girls and women were going to find it really, really emotional and moving, but what I was surprised by is how many guys were so moved by it and how quickly the conversation opened up. I remember getting coffee at a cafe, and people wanted to talk about that scene. It was kind of overwhelming, actually, but also amazing. I did know it'd be special, but I didn't think it was going to be so impactful.

Ezeudu: When we film things, we just play the truth in the moment, and we wait to see how it's received. But to see that it really resonated with viewers, it's just so, so great. And if it can help one person out there, then that's enough.

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If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673) and visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) for more resources.

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