While directing Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Hysteria, which is about the invention of the electric vibrator during Victorian England, Tanya Wexler had no trouble getting her highly professional actors to take matters seriously — well, at least not her human actors. “[Dancy] was quite a good boy,” Wexler said in our exclusive interview, when asked if the handsome Brit ever caused any ripples during potentially awkward scenes. “He’s really fun on set, but he does not get up to no good.”

There was one scene, however — actually, just a shot — that had Wexler pulling out all the stops. Listen to how she explains it: “The most bizarre thing was a bit where Hugh’s character and Felicity Jones’ character are walking in the park and they see some ducks, and that is supposed to be this romantic, beautiful, Victorian walk in the park, but then the ducks start ‘shagging,’ and that was impossible to find.”

You heard it: duck shagging. Apparently, properly trained English ducks won’t simply start going at it anywhere, anytime. “So I think the funniest bit was trying to get these trained ducks to mate, which they just won’t do on command,” Wexler continued, telling of how she had to enlist the help of an amateur nature photographer to get the ducks to get it on. “Later in post-production, I had to have my boom operator, who is a naturalist photographer by hobby; he had to try to shoot ducks shagging in this rookery. And I have like 10 days of hard drives full of duck porno.”

With increasing concern that she would have to compromise her artistic integrity — i.e. give up on her dreams of duck coitus — Wexler eventually hit the quackpot. “Finally, three days before we locked picture, I was able to find in the stock footage bank, ducks shagging on command in the right shot that would match everything we shot,” she said. “But I definitely had a struggle, I had a producer come up to me about a week before we locked picture and say, ‘You know, were gonna have to contemplate a duck-f***ing-free movie.’ And it was really upsetting to me; I don’t know what I would have done.”

—JUSTIN JANNISE

Watch the complete video interview here:

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