Annette Bening and Jamie Bell break down this amazing disco scene in 'Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool' (exclusive)

Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
Yahoo Movies

Disco is not dead.

Two years after making a (very brief) comeback in The Martian, disco is having another moment in the new drama Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. Set in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the film traces the real-life relationship between fading black-and-white film star Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) and much younger British actor Peter Turner (Jamie Bell).

In their music-fueled meet-cute, Grahame invites Turner into her apartment and the pair immediately bond — and boogie down — to the sounds of a Taste of Honey’s 1978 disco hit “Boogie Oogie Oogie.” (Watch the clip exclusively above.)

Bening and Bell told Yahoo Entertainment that while they were offered the services of a choreographer, they decided to take a more freestyle approach to the scene.

“We had somebody that could’ve helped us, and we were just like, ‘No, let’s do it with our cameraman,'” Bening said. “[A dance expert did] show us a few moves, like, ‘You might wanna try that or that.’ And that was helpful. But we basically just kind of winged it, and it was so fun.”

As Bell explained, “Annette thought it was more important that there’s an awkwardness about it and it’s not polished and it’s people trying to impress other people.”

Bell, who got his big-screen start busting entirely different types of moves in 2000’s Billy Elliott, found some last-minute inspiration from another cinematic disco sensation. He watched John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever in his trailer right before they filmed the sequence. “I suddenly realized, ‘S***, I don’t know how to disco-dance. I’ve never disco-danced in my life. I love disco music, but f***, I’ve never done anything like that before. So I was very desperately doing stuff in the mirror and desperately trying.”

The pair did only three takes of the scene — and both agreed it was welcome respite from some of the film’s heavier subject matter. “I circled that scene in the schedule, and I was like, if we can just get to the disco dancing, we’ll be able to get to the other side,” Bell said. “It was so nice to just have a scene where the music is going and the crew were all laughing and clapping.”

Said Bening: “I could’ve kept doing it all day. Then we can avoid those tougher scenes. But it was fun. … I would’ve liked to have done it more.”

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool opens Dec. 29.

Watch our Role Recall interview with Annette Bening:

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