Olly Alexander says he had ‘hysterical breakdown’ over It’s A Sin sex scenes

Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor
·2-min read

Olly Alexander has said he had “a bit of a hysterical breakdown” while filming sex scenes for It’s A Sin.

The Years & Years frontman plays the ebullient Ritchie Tozer in the hit Channel 4 drama about the Aids crisis.

He told GQ Hype it was a “revelation” to be part of a cast of predominantly gay actors in the series, created by Russell T Davies, adding: “I’ve never been on a set with so many queer people. I’ve never even worked with a gay director, so it was a completely new experience.

Olly Alexander (Hugo Yanguela/GQ/PA)
Olly Alexander (Hugo Yanguela/GQ/PA)

“We understood these characters (with a) kind of shorthand that gay people understand.”

However, Alexander said he found the sex scenes a stressful experience.

“I had a bit of a hysterical breakdown. I was really worried I couldn’t do it. I just didn’t feel safe,” he said.

“So I would sing before the takes, be a little bit of Olly on stage.

“That was my way of tricking my brain and thinking it was a character. Which, of course, it was.”

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Olly Alexander on stage with Years & Years (Lesley Martin/PA)

Alexander, 30, said he is learning how to navigate his insecurities, adding: “I have this – I think irrational – anxiety about gay men tearing me down.

“And I tried to interrogate that within myself and I think it’s complicated, because a lot of it has to do with internalised phobias and shame, about how I see myself versus how other people see me.

“What I do know is that I want them to not hate me. And I want to make the community proud. It’s been at the heart of pretty much every decision I’ve ever made. And I don’t know if I’ve always got it right.”

He also discussed his experiences of playing with his band Years & Years, saying: “When we’re playing a pop music festival, I’m looking at the other acts in the line-up and there aren’t that many gay people on them.

“You see how quickly your show isn’t family-friendly anymore because I want to take my top off and I’m like ‘Well, I just watched Jason Derulo and Liam Payne take their tops off and have all these women in underwear, but now I’m not allowed?’ What do you do with that?”

Olly Alexander (Hugo Yanguela/GQ/PA)
Olly Alexander (Hugo Yanguela/GQ/PA)

– The full interview is online at GQ Hype.