Melissa Rauch, best known as Bernadette Rostenkowski, the charismatic but convincing waitress turned scientist on the long-running CBS hit series,The Big Bang Theory, is embracing a whole new persona as a has-been champion, Hope Ann Greggory, in the new comedy, The Bronze.
Written by Rauch and her husband, Winston, the film tells the story of a gymnast who basked in hometown glory after reaching the medal stand, only to find her star fading into obscurity. When a young, new gymnast Maggie, played by Haley Lu Richardson, is on the cusp of surpassing Hope's fame (and achievement-standing), the former athlete is tasked with coaching her to victory.
The movie itself harkens back to Billy Bob Thornton's brand of '00 comedies mixed with some ofBring It On's spunky vibe -- and it's definitely not family fare. The R-rated comedy will surprise the purist of Big Bang fans with its mix of raunchy humor and Rauch's "Gives Zero F**ks" on-screen attitude.
"The Big Bang Theory audience can't necessarily bring their children to this one," Rauch tells ETonline about the film, which came out of wanting to write an opportunity to challenge herself as an actress.
And it's certainly a far cry from what normally gets past censors on CBS.The Bronze opens with Hope masturbating to a VHS recording of her victorious comeback to help win the U.S. team the bronze medal.
"When we were screening it in Sundance, there was a family that brought in their children. I stopped them at the door and warned them, and they were like, 'No, no, it's fine. These kids watch everything,'" the actress reveals. "I just feel bad that these children have a very unrealistic view of what sex looks like, if that was their first exposure to a sex scene. I hope they don't injure themselves when the time comes, when they're older."
The sex scene Rauch is referring to -- easily The Bronze's funniest and most shocking moment -- comes in the third act, when Hope finds herself submitting to her inhibitions and attraction to Lance, played bySebastian Stan, a former champion and rival gymnastics coach. Seemingly inspired by their past floor routines, the two rivals end up back in a hotel room, vaulting, cartwheeling and hanging from rings as they engage in the most insane (and athletic) sex scene ever.
Almost too outrageous to conceive, the moment wasn't originally in the outline -- but Rauch and her husband were quick to change that.
"We just knew that those characters were going to get together at that point in the script," Rauch reveals, finding inspiration when they started filling in the dialogue. "We just looked at each other at that moment, like, 'Oh my gosh. Of course this is what would happen when these two world-class gymnasts get together.'"
"So we wrote the most crazy, epic gymnastic sex scene ever," she continues, joking that it's the closest that she'll ever get to writing a pornographic film. "I mean, I won't close any doors."
The romp's athletic prowess was executed largely by the Cirque du Soleil performers who did most of the stunts -- including hanging from rings that were already in the handicapped-equipped hotel room -- and the film's gymnastics coordinator Kristina Baskett, a former Junior Olympic champion. "I feel bad it wasn't in the original job description," Rauch says sheepishly, referring to Baskett, who did all the gymnastics in the movie.
But Rauch gives extra credit to Stan, whom she says dove in "headfirst." "The sex scene was definitely a highlight," he says, opting to do as many of the stunts himself. However, there were two moves he had to rely on his own Cirque du Soleil performer to execute. "I didn't have enough time to learn how to do the pommel horse, nor did I have enough time to actually stretch my leg that high."
"Honestly, if I had maybe another month or two, I would have just gone for it," Stan teases of what could have been -- though he really does give it his all.
"You're seeing so much of him in that scene," Rauch notes. For added pleasure, Lance strips down to reveal a blue ribbon tattooed around his V line, tracing down to his "medal."
"The makeup artist was a very sweet woman and she had to be eye-to-crotch with Sebastian for about an hour, putting that on him," she says.
"She should send me a thank you card," Rauch jokes, adding that fans are welcome to do the same.
The Bronze opens nationwide on March 18.
--Additional reporting by Ashley Crossan.