Adam Demos Is Doing It for the Art

Photo: Nino Muñoz/Netflix

We’ve all been told to expect a sticky, steamy vaccinated summer, so why shouldn’t your television be just as hot? Netflix’s Sex/Life, which hits the streamer today, is like a feminist Red Shoe Diaries: It’s soapy, silly, and very, very sexy. The show follows Billie (Sarah Shahi), who is happily married to a successful man with whom she has two young children — but something’s missing. Mainly, she begins fantasizing about her toxic ex, Brad, with whom she shared a whole lotta life and a whole lotta sex. At first, Billie’s fantasies stay within the realm of her diary, but when Brad unexpectedly reenters her life for real, things get complicated.

The role of Brad could be a hard one to play — he has anger issues and is clearly okay with showing his ex his dick over FaceTime. But Adam Demos, the 35-year-old actor who plays him, manages to make this character deeper than just a guy who’s really hard to root for. Plus, Demos’s face and well, everything else you get to see, makes him a perfect summer crush. Demos talked to the Cut about finding his character’s heart, full-frontal nudity, and having to sing.

What drew you to the role of Brad? He’s kind of a fuckboy, but then you feel sympathetic for him as well. 

What drew me to him is how he puts up these walls because Billie gets so close and in his heart. It forced him to deal with issues he hasn’t dealt with before that he swept under the rug from his childhood. And then you also get the opportunity to play him in the present day, where he has resolved certain issues. But now he lives with the regret of not doing it sooner because he lost her. How often do you get to play two versions of someone?

We learn so much about your character through Billie’s rewriting of him, which, more often than not, doesn’t paint him in a great light. What was it like playing Brad in those flashbacks? He seems really awful in them. 

You have to find the humanity in when he’s acting up, and it’s just because he’s scared. Billie starts to break through that, then every time he feels vulnerable, he pushes her away. It was about finding the little boy in him, right? My job in those scenes where I really show her my vulnerability is to try to do that justice. Then you can understand what Billie sees in him.

There’s so much sex in the show. Were you nervous about the nudity? Did you guys work with an intimacy coordinator? 

When you read the script before you say yes to the job, it’s not like a shock when you get to work and you’re like, Okay, we actually have all these sex scenes. But the environment created for us was so safe. Having an intimacy coordinator [Casey Hudecki], someone who’s specifically there for those scenes and just looking after you and your safety, we would rehearse those scenes and choreograph them more than any other scenes. You’re rehearsing them down to the breath almost. So when you get there on the day of, nothing really surprises or shocks you. The boundaries they put in place for us made everyone feel safe.

I hope Brad, Billie, and her husband, Cooper, end up in a throuple. 

And move to Australia.

That would be really lovely for them and would cut out a lot of the drama. Many of the scenes between Cooper and Brad are really interesting because they put a lot out there in questions about masculinity and toxic masculinity, especially in the differing ways they perceive Billie. 

Initially, you see that ego, and they’re running off their ego, especially when Cooper comes to his office. It’s two bulls, right? I love [later in the series] where they talk honestly to each other. So I thought that was really cool, that what you’re talking about exists until the point where they’re just like, Man, you’re the only one who probably gets how I love her. We did talk about that, the fact that you get to explore it and you come to the end, where it’s like, Let’s drop all the rubbish and just show our cards.

There’s a scene when you sing a song to Billie, which I would think might be more intimidating than being naked throughout the whole show. 

That was more intimidating. I’m not a singer. They say, “We’re going to get you some singing lessons, and you’re going to do a song.” I’m like, Well, why not? I thought to myself, I’ll just give it a crack, and if not, they can add some voice-over. It’s definitely something my mates are going to give me a hard time about.

You’re going to be a very hot topic of discussion on the internet. Are you emotionally prepared for that? 

I never have any expectations on anything because you could say one thing and then it doesn’t happen. What I’m excited about is for people to see [the show] because I’m so proud of it. I watched it, and I’ve had a hard time watching myself. But I found myself into the story, and I’m so proud of it.

People will be talking about your full-frontal scene a lot. 

You know, you sacrifice for the art.

There’s a really tough emotional scene when Brad meets Billie’s children. It encompasses a lot of their past and if that’s still hanging over their relationship. What was it like shooting that scene?

It just goes to show he’s looking at a life he could have had, and it’s a mourning. That walking away from that, to me, was so heartbreaking because he’s finally saying good-bye at that moment. And it’s the life, if he was brave enough to deal with his stuff back then, that he would have had. And so to me, it was heartbreaking, that part of his journey.

What are you hoping a season two may entail? 

I’m just not smart enough like these writers and creators to come up with anything — anything I can pitch is going to be one percent of what they have in store. I think that the way it ends, anything could happen. I mean, you want the three of them to move to Australia!

Adam Demos Is Doing It for the Art