13 fascinating facts about sapphic thriller Love Lies Bleeding – including the ‘sweaty’ sex scenes

Love Lies Bleeding is a must-watch according to review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, but there are many facts about the sapphic thriller that its fans may not know. 

Released in UK cinemas on 19 April, Love Lies Bleeding has already scored an impressive 94 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.

The official full plot synopsis of Love Lies Bleeding – the first screenings of which caused “visceral” reactions – is as follows: “In the 1980s, a reclusive gym manager Lou (Kristen Stewart) falls hard for Jackie (Katy O’Brian), an ambitious bodybuilder headed through town to Las Vegas in pursuit of her dream. But their love ignites violence, pulling them deep into the web of Lou’s criminal family.”

Here are 13 facts about the spicy sapphic thriller, starring Kristen Stewart, Ed Harris and Katy O’Brian, that you may not know.

1. Katy O’Brian is an experienced martial artist and body builder 

O’Brian, who plays bodybuilder Jackie and the love interest of Lou in Love Lies Bleeding, is a martial arts instructor and former bodybuilder.

She also lives with Crohn’s disease which, as noted by the NHS, is “a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed”. The disease saw her hospitalised in 2020 and two years after she was cast in what she called her “dream role” of Jackie.

2. “Lou” was written for Kristen Stewart 

Kristen Stewart poses for the camera while wearing a black lacy outfit
Kristen Stewart (Getty/Karwai Tang)

Director Rose Glass explained of her and co-writer Weronika Tofilska’s casting of Stewart as Lou: “Once Weronika and I started to imagine what this character was like, we did the exercise of who your fantasy cast would be. Kristen was the only actress that sprung to mind; it just felt very natural.” 

3. Katy found the role of “Jackie” on X/Twitter 

O’Brian was made aware of the film by a fan on X/Twitter who sent her the casting call.

She recalls: “On my third audition or something, I remember there were a couple other girls there as well. Kristen was out in the hall and I just went up and started chatting with her, mostly about the movie, but I also broke the ice [by] talking about my cat – as lesbians do.”

4. Katy only had two weeks to get lean before filming started 

O’Brian’s prior experience as a bodybuilder helped her get in shape in just two weeks.

She said of her workout routine: “I would do two days a week of chest, shoulders, triceps. Two days of back, biceps and traps. And then two days of legs and one day off…And then 30 to 45 minutes of abs every day, which was really annoying for me because I felt like I was just going through the motions. And then an hour of walking uphill on a treadmill every day.”

5. Ed Harris brought his own “Skullett” to set 

Harris, who play the unlikeable father of Stewart’s character, was told by director Glass that his character needed to look “different” to any other he had played before.

Following this he brought his own skullett – a mullet with a usually bald or buzz cut skull – to set. Glass told Mashable: “I didn’t know that word until reading press about this. So I’m learning every day.”

6. The sex scenes were shot in 100-degree heat 

Kristen Stewart (right) has spoken about intimate scenes in Love Lies Bleeding (A24)
Kristen Stewart (right) has spoken about intimate scenes in Love Lies Bleeding (A24)

In interviews with People, O’Brian explained how the sex scenes were “really not that sexy when you’re doing it”.

The scenes were filmed in New Mexico where temperatures would hit over 100-degrees, creating a less than sexy environment.

O’Brian recalled: “It was so hot that every time Kristen would pull the pants off, everything would just pull right off. So finally we’re just like, ‘Can we just do this with one layer? Do we really need a diaper?’

“We’re filming in Albuquerque. It’s hot, it’s in the summer — it’s like 112 degrees. So we feel sweaty and gross, and we just hope that we’re not stinky and everything.”

7. Jackie’s hairstyle was inspired by 80s bodybuilder Lisa Lyon 

Glass revealed in an interview with Mashable that “Jackie’s hair is inspired by this bodybuilder called Lisa Lyon,” who died in 2023 at the age of 70.

Lyon, who was five-foot-three and inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger, became the first winner of the Women’s World Pro Bodybuilding Championship at the age of 26.

8. This is director Rose Glass’ second feature film after Saint Maud 

Saint Maud has been horrifying viewers since its release on streaming services. (YouTube)
Saint Maud has been horrifying viewers since its release on streaming services. (YouTube)

Glass made her feature film debut with Saint Maud in 2019. The unsettling horror film was added to Prime Video and Hulu in 2021 and viewers were left thoroughly terrified.

9. Kristen did jumping jacks to get her heart rate up before scenes

Stewart fully embodied the role of Lou, who is often on edge, and in order to portray this to viewers she admitted that she would do jumping jacks to get her heart rate up before scenes.

10. Katy wore tape and a hockey cup in intimate scenes

O’Brian said her and her co-star Stewart used “lots of tape” down there and she even used a hockey cup as a buffer.

“There was some funny little experimenting with protection,” she said, adding that “it just felt really not sexy and very silly”.

11.The film includes music by producer Patrick Cowley

The film uses Cowley’s soundtrack “Mutant Man”. Cowley soundtracked many 80s gay adult films. He died in 1982 at just 23 from AIDS-related illness.

12. Katy used to be a police officer

Katy O'Brien in a waistcoat at The Mandalorian premiere.
Love Lies Bleeding star Katy O’Brian (Getty)

Prior to life in the spotlight, O’Brian seven years employed by the Carmel Police Department in Indiana, where she served on the department’s Crisis Intervention Team.

She told Vulture: “I will say it was life experience I otherwise never would have gotten and that I probably, certainly needed because I was naïve. At the end of the day, I had a panic attack where I was like, I’m not doing what I really want to do.”

13. Love Lies Bleeding is a plant

Love Lies Bleeding is actually a plant symbolising passion and sacrifice. Its striking name has even seen Elton John write a song with its name as the title.