The plot of The Favourite may revolve around a dramatic and dysfunctional royal court, but it's unlike any other period piece before it. From the (unconventional) mind of director Yorgos Lanthimos (see: The Lobster, Killling of a Sacred Deer), the movie is, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, "not your mother's costume drama."
Shrouded in mystery and one-liners, the trailer for the film may not totally reveal what actually goes down in the royal palace between Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), her top advisor and confidant Sarah Jennings Churchill (Rachel Weisz), and Sarah's Machiavellian cousin, Abigail Mashan (Emma Stone). The Favourite is actually a film about the most bananas three-way love triangle you've ever seen, with a few men in elaborate wigs thrown in (Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn, mere pawn chess pieces to the three Queens) for good measure. It's this thrilling and provocative dynamic that pushed Stone to take on her first (semi) nude scene.
"I had the sheet up around me, and as we were shooting it and we did a few takes, I said, ‘Can I please just be [naked]?’ I think it’s going to give Sarah something to look at when she sees that I’m not just under the sheet covered up," Stone said during her joint interview with THR. "Olivia was like, ‘No, don’t do it!’ [director] Yorgos [Lanthimos] was like, ‘Are you sure that’s what you want to do?’ And I was like, ‘Absolutely.’"
In a movie full of backstabbing and scheming, this image of Abigail naked in the queen's bed is the biggest "fuck you" of them all (the film's title refers to the Queen choosing her favourite of the two women). "I chose to do it," Stone said. "I was like, this makes sense to me. It’s an absolute [Stone flips the bird] to Sarah."
It makes sense that Stone would choose this film for her first nude scene — The Favourite unequivocally hands the reigns of power to its women.
And as for the infighting, it's thrilling rather than regressive. I'll allow Colman to explain why: "How can it set women back to prove that women fart and vomit and hate and love and do all the things men do? All human beings are the same. We're all multifaceted, many-layered, disgusting and gorgeous and powerful and weak and filthy and brilliant. That's what's nice [about The Favourite]. It doesn't make women an old-fashioned thing of delicacy."