"Taint locket" is just one of Melissa Rauch's favorite obscenities from the forthcoming comedy The Bronze, which she co-wrote with her husband Winston Rauch and stars in as former Olympic gymnast Hope Ann Gregory.
The actress, who made her mark on primetime TV as good-natured Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory, is also rather fond of "absence makes the dick grow harder," but "taint locket" may have legs, she tells BuzzFeed News in a phone interview. "If there is room on QVC for a taint locket market, I'd like to launch that line. I feel like best friend charms were really big in the '90s, so this could be the version of that today," she says. "Wear your taint locket with pride." (And for enlightenment on precisely what a taint locket is, you needn't look far.)
Even in The Bronze's safe-for-work, green band trailer, which BuzzFeed News is exclusively debuting below, the matter-of-fact filth bubbling out of Rauch's character is evident. And it's easy to comprehend the buzz it generated at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, thanks to the action sequence Rauch says was written "in bold, all-caps, underlined" in the screenplay: "THE MOST EPIC, CRAZY GYMNASTICS SEX SCENE EVER."
But for all its vulgarity, she insists The Bronze isn't "profanity for profanity's sake."
Rauch's character, Hope, has ridden a minor celebrity wave since her bronze medal win at the Olympics many years before. When the audience meets her, she steals, drops f-bombs, chows down on junk food, behaves with entitlement, and then somehow somersaults into becoming the coach of another Olympic hopeful in her small Ohioan hometown, an opportunity she's eager to sabotage. "With young gymnasts, these girls are told to act a certain way, talk a certain way, and behave in a certain way," Rauch says. "[Hope's] been told to do things a certain way for years, and now she's rebelling against them. … We wanted to hit home some truth and darkness that lays in there."
Since the film (which co-stars Gary Cole, Haley Lu Richardson, Thomas Middleditch, Sebastian Stan, and Cecily Strong) made its bow at Sundance this time last year, the Rauches and director Bryan Buckley have honed that truth by trimming scenes, adding back in some original story ideas, and adjusting Hope's arc for a new cut. The fest was instrumental in finalizing the new theatrical version, which will be released in theaters on March 18. "It was nice to see it with a crowd and hear that laughter, to figure out where we wanted to make those tweaks," Rauch explains.
The result may shock The Big Bang Theory fans who only know her from the
CBS sitcom. However, Rauch says, "on the surface you wouldn't think Hope and Bernadette have anything in common, but they're really just the flip of each other. Hope has a super, super tough exterior, while deep down, there's a sweetness she's trying to cover up. And while Bernadette is really sweet on the outside, she has this boiling tea kettle inside of her."
The Rauches — whose dual writing dynamic is described as "best idea wins" — didn't want to water down their anti-hero, a move Melissa thinks would have artificially bent to the invisible rule that female characters should be likeable. "We could have made her more palatable, but she doesn't like herself," she says. "She's not gonna have people like her until she's a little OK with herself, and we wanted to take the audience on that journey."
That journey almost had a pitstop for a quickie between Hope and a "creepy guy" in a bathroom, but the couple ultimately cut it from the script. It was the source of the only dispute they had working on The Bronze — not because of the dirty sex, but because of the casting process.
"My husband was by himself at a Friendly's and he called me and he was like, 'I think I found Creepy Guy here. This guy is so perfect,'" Melissa recalls. "And I was like, 'This is somebody who needs to be having sex with your wife; it needs to be an actor, we're not just hiring a creepy man you found at a Friendly's for this role.'"
Winston still proceeded to get the man's email address. "It was some weird AOL address," Melissa remembers. "He did not get the part."