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May 13, 2016

Samantha Bentley, Misha Cross Discuss 'Hard in Love'

LOS ANGELES—Samantha Bentley and Misha Cross want to let the viewers decide how they feel about the unconventional conclusion to their epic two-part feature. “We’re not going to give away the end, but it is a twist,” Cross said.  “We didn’t want it to be a happy ending,” Bentley teased. “We didn’t want it to be all peaches and cream.” The two headlining stars, who are best friends in real life, also wrote the screenplay for Hard in Love, the all-girl production directed by Evil Angel founder John “Buttman” Stagliano that hits the streets on Wednesday in a four-hour, double-disc set. The second part is scheduled to drop in another double-disc package on June 6, when the haunting romantic drama will come to what they say is a “disturbing” close.  “We kind of combined his gonzo perspective—because he’s really amazing at showing women’s bodies—with our psychotic love story,” Cross said.  “It’s romantic but in the most twisted, fucked-up way possible with really good, gonzo hardcore sex scenes,” Bentley suggested. The collaboration is significant on several levels, not the least of which is both performers have world class talent. The Warsaw, Poland-based Cross is the reigning AVN Foreign Female Performer of the Year now in her fourth year in adult, while the London-born Bentley won the 2015 AVN Award for Best Sex Scene in a Foreign Shot Production for her threeway with Henessy and Rocco Siffredi in Rocco’s Perfect Slaves 2. Also known for her repeat appearances on HBO's "Game of Thrones," Bentley is in her fifth year in porn. Stagliano, meanwhile, took the helm of a girl/girl feature for the first time in his AVN Hall of Fame career that spans 33-plus years and more than 200 films. But what makes Hard in Love uniquely personal is the theme of the movie was largely fueled by Bentley and Cross’ complex emotional bond off camera. “It’s our story,” Bentley told AVN. “We poured our heart into this—blood, sweat and tears went into this movie, literally. So far the feedback has been phenomenal and we want that to continue because we don’t want John to be like, ‘why did I give these girls so much power?’ “It’s our baby. Obviously, we’ve never written a movie before and to have one so big for our first one—something that is John’s feature—it’s nerve wracking. We don’t want to let him down.” They have nothing to worry about there, Stagliano assured.  “They were more equipped to write this story than I am; they’re girls,” he said with a laugh. “They were good at coming up with some interesting dynamics. I made sure the script had some moments in it where the girls could really perform. They’re in strong, emotional lesbian relationships and we’re using rough sex to help tell the story that’s happening. “It was a lot of fun to do and it came out a lot better than I thought. It was greatly helped by the talent of these girls.”  The idea for the movie hatched in October of 2014, when Stagliano accompanied Bentley and Cross to his favorite fetish club, Insomnia in Berlin, and found himself in a deep conversation. “We talked a lot about love and this idea I had for this movie, Hard in Love, and we connected,” Stagliano recalled. “I like directing harder sex and more interesting sex and they both are amazing at that, so I was very happy. We planned that and then a year later we shot it finally.” Bentley said she and Cross told Stagliano about “the ins and outs of our psychotic love lives.” “And he was very intrigued and he said he was out of his depth, which is obviously like a great achievement to put Buttman out of his depth,” Bentley joked. “And when we were at Insomnia, I pole-danced for Misha and he said he wanted to capture the intensity that she and I had in the movie.” At first they thought they’d shoot it in America. “But it didn’t work out that way,” Cross said. “Then we got an email from John that he is still really interested in shooting this material because he thinks it’s going to be something new and groundbreaking, especially for him because he has never shot a girl/girl movie before. “So he was so focused on it that he decided to come to Europe and shoot it with us with European performers.” Stagliano even gave his leading ladies the opportunity to pick the rest of the cast. “He asked us who we wanted in the movie, who we thought were intense performers,” Bentley continued. “So we chose all the girls and we wrote the story based on our own obsessive, psychotic love lives and how we think as a female.” Bentley knew she wanted statuesque dom Angel Long, who is also a director in England, to play a prominent role. And according to Stagliano, the British star helped drive the narrative in more ways than one.  “Her acting was really good,” Stagliano said, noting he was a fan of Long when she first debuted in the early 2000s. “This dynamic we created with the three of them was amazing.” Bentley characterized Long as “like a female Rocco.” “She’s very powerful,” Bentley said. “Her presence is powerful. She’s very dominant and she has that kind of control where she can be like, ‘no.’ And she can take control of another girl. “And we chose the other girls based on their performance. We chose Nikita Bellucci because she’s an incredibly hard performer. We chose Jessie Volt because she’s amazing; Misha’s done great scenes with her before. We chose Henessy because my scene with her and Rocco won the AVN. So we kind of re-enacted it with me and Angel and Henessy.” Proxy Paige also performs in Part 1, while Tiffany Doll and Nataly Gold join the cast in Part 2.   “I think also we chose these girls because we kind of fancy them,” Cross said. “This is what I felt like when choosing the girls. Like OK, I always wanted to shoot with this girl. I love this girl…I’m not choosing just because your scenes are great, I’m choosing you because I kind of fancy you.” Bentley added, “Because there’s nothing worse than turning up on set with a girl that doesn’t want to lick your pussy.”  Cross and Bentley perform one sex scene together in Part I and two more in Part II—one of which is a departure from the aggressive, depraved tone of all the other scenes. “The scene in Hard in Love 2 that is probably my favorite scene out of the two movies is me and Misha in the hotel,” Bentley said, referring to a session they shot in Berlin. They also filmed half the movie at Rocco Siffredi’s home in Budapest. “And that morning there had been a syphilis scare in the European industry, so we were a bit scared to shoot. But we were like we’re going to shoot this scene but we’re going to shoot it in a way that’s not exchanging fluids.  “It was a very intense scene with toys and we used like foot fetish and it turned out to be one of the best scenes we’ve ever shot. It’s so beautiful. We shot with natural light in the hotel. The whole of the two movies is so dark and intense and then there’s one tender moment. And I actually think that John said the syphilis scare made us more creative and I think it really did.” Cross said that while they set out to perform decidedly hard sex, it was important to also show “the feminine, psychological side of our relationship.” “We didn’t want to just focus on sex scenes,” she said. Bentley reasoned, “And that is what John is very good at. But we know the reason why he wanted to shoot this movie was because she and I have a connection that is in some ways fucked up and very intense, and I guess we took the connection that we have in real life and magnified it. We made it enormous and stretched out of control.   “I guess it is kind of the same as being in the porn industry. Being best friends in the porn industry and being in competition with each other and loving each other so much, but at the same time being jealous and wanting the same things and kind of fighting for the same things. So we kind of took that and we made that into this story. And obviously John is a genius. The way he shoots is like no other director I’ve ever shot with. And with our kind of fucked up mentality and his way of shooting, Hard in Love was born.”  Cross echoed the sentiment. “I think this is what inspired him because he wanted to shoot something real,” Cross said. “He saw this connection between me and Sam. He didn’t want another movie that was like, ‘now you’re going to have a sex scene with this girl, and now you’re going to do this and that…’ He wanted to show emotions and real ones.”   Stagliano called Hard in Love “the best stuff I’ve ever shot in some ways.” “It’s just really strong, emotional stuff that I feel a little guilty in pandering to, but it was their script,” Stagliano said. “It’s very real with Samantha’s acting. Samantha is thoughtful and intelligent and a lot of her scenes are just crazy and it works.   “And Misha was amazingly different. Misha is a very powerful, sexy performer in ways I had not appreciated. She was definitely a nice foil for the whole threesome. The movie’s at least as much or a little more about her than Samantha maybe, because Misha got one more scene.” Stagliano, who has shed 20 pounds during the past five years, said he’s still in good shape and it helped his camerawork.  “It has a unique look to it. I’m very happy,” he said. Calling Stagliano “the godfather of gonzo,” Bentley admitted “for us, doing this movie with John was such a huge deal.”  “We will always be in awe of John,” Bentley said. “He’s done so much for both of us. So it was like an honor and a pleasure to do this movie with him.”

 
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