The Australian actor talks getting vulnerable — and naked.

By Ruth Kinane
June 25, 2021 at 11:00 AM EDT
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Let's talk about sex... and life. That's exactly what Netflix is doing in the first season of its super-steamy new drama Sex/Life. Inspired by BB Easton's book 44 Chapters About 4 Men, the series stars Sarah Shahi as horny housewife Billie, who's struggling to remain a devoted wife and mother while craving the freer, wilder days of her youth. Enter vivid memories of her former flame Brad (Adam Demos), which continue to keep her up at night.

As Billie tortures herself over the choices she's made and the lustful fantasies she's trying to keep from her husband, Cooper (Mike Vogel), Brad unexpectedly reenters her life, making it all the more difficult to forget the many moments of intense pleasure they shared - not to mention the committed relationship they had and its traumatic end.

With so many tense exchanges, emotional breakdowns, and carefully choreographed sex scenes stuffed into eight episodes, there's a lot to unpack in season 1. So we tracked down Demos to chat about all of it - including, of course, his totally nude shower scene.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you first get involved with Sex/Life?

ADAM DEMOS: I'd worked with Stacy [Rukeyser], our showrunner, before on UnReal and knew she was adapting this book, but I didn't know what roles there were, so I didn't want to get my hopes up. Then I got the audition and thankfully it went my way. The story and the world she created were so incredible. I looked at Brad, and it's about playing this guy who eight years ago meets the love of his life, who forces him to deal with all of these issues that he suppressed since his childhood, and then playing the character in the present day who's dealt with those issues, but who's left with the regret of not doing it sooner. I loved that. How often do you get to do that? The eight-year gap and then also the change and the loss that he faces?

Right, it's almost like playing two characters.
Yeah, and some days I would do "past Brad" in the morning and then in the afternoon I'd do present-day Brad. I was like, what's happening?

That's a cool challenge though. What about Brad appealed to you?

For me personally, it's the vulnerability I had to show in Brad in order for you to understand why Billie keeps going back to him. She says, "You get scared and you lash out." So I have to show the fear. He's put up all these walls to get through life and succeed, but then as soon as he meets someone, the love of his life, it's forcing him to look at those walls. It's scary. I see the humanity in that, why he's acting out in certain ways. That was the most appealing thing for me.

You and Sarah hadn't met before this and didn't even do a chemistry read, but it seems to have worked out. How was working with her?

I don't know if there's anyone else who could play the role of Billie - just watching the emotional journey she has to go through and leaving her heart and soul on screen. It's not often that you get to work with actors of that caliber, especially in roles like that. Just standing opposite her in a scene is a privilege. I've heard this before, and I didn't really understand it, but it does make you a better actor when you're with someone who's brave enough to get that raw.

SEX/LIFE
Sarah Shahi and Adam Demos in 'Sex/Life'
| Credit: NETFLIX

Speaking of being brave, let's talk about the sex, which is a big component of this show. How did you approach those scenes?

Well, because all those scenes are there for a reason, because they drive the story and the characters, you really do see where each character is emotionally. So then it's just like breaking down a scene like you would a speaking scene. Then on top of that, we would have an intimacy coordinator and everyone would speak about it and their comfort levels. You would rehearse it so much that by the time you did it, it was a lot more comfortable than you'd assume. You discuss everything: hand movements, everything down to the breath. In sex scenes, the breathing is an emotional thing, so you're discussing that journey, but then you're also discussing each individual's comfort level. We were just lucky that the environment they set for us was incredible. Our intimacy coordinator was awesome, and knowing there's someone specifically there for that, who's on top of it all, is really cool.

SEX/LIFE
Sarah Shahi and Adam Demos in 'Sex/Life'
| Credit: NETFLIX

So did you request a body double for any shots or were you okay with the nudity? Because you have a full-frontal shower scene in there...

I was okay with it because you read the script and know what you're getting yourself into from the start, so I don't think you would sign on to a show after reading the scripts and then say no last minute. That doesn't mean you can't have discussions about comfort level, which they allowed us to have - and with the intimacy coordinator, so it felt a lot safer.

Are you anticipating a lot of talk about the shower scene?

I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. We'll see...

I feel like there will be some pretty, um, big discussions on social media. The show isn't just about sex, though. There are a lot of intense emotional moments too, particularly for Billie, who is tortured by her own indecisiveness. How would you describe Sex/Life to someone who hasn't seen it?

It's about choices. It's about going left when you could have gone right. It's about desire. It [asks]: Do you have to give up one part of yourself in order to fulfill another role? And on top of the thought-provoking things it brings up, it's just sexy and fun. When people ask me, "What do you hope the takeaway is?" I truly believe this: It's going to be based on the individual, because you can relate to it or even if you don't, you may know someone [who would]. Or you just love the show because it's a wild ride. I think it's cool that it makes you question things. It's okay to question things.

SEX/LIFE
Adam Demos and Sarah Shahi in 'Sex/Life'
| Credit: AMANDA MATLOVICH/NETFLIX

If there's a second season, what would you like to see happen to Brad? Do you think you'd wanna dig more into his past with his father?

I'm sure that will rear its head at some point. People deal with their issues, but how much do they really deal with them? I'm smart enough to know what I'm not smart about, and that is writing a TV show. I don't know how they created what they created, because when watching it, you think you know what's coming, but then Billie does something else, or something else happens. So I feel like whatever they come up with is going to be pretty epic.

Okay, last question: If you had to choose for Billie, would you be on Team Brad or Team Cooper?

You know what's so great? One minute you want it to be Cooper, the next Brad. You gotta give credit to Sarah because you feel Billie's pain. How about if Brad and Cooper and Billie all moved to Australia together and just started a little commune?

Sex/Life is streaming now on Netflix.

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