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'Saltburn' production designer explains how they made the bathroom scene, from finding a tub that fit Jacob Elordi to creating his bathwater

Jason Guerrasio   

'Saltburn' production designer explains how they made the bathroom scene, from finding a tub that fit Jacob Elordi to creating his bathwater
  • "Saltburn" production designer Suzie Davies answered our burning questions about the bathroom scene.
  • The room was originally a bedroom that Davies transformed into a bathroom.

Emerald Fennell's "Saltburn" has dominated the zeitgeist in recent weeks, with many social media users fixating on a few core scenes — one being the moment when Barry Keoghan's Oliver slurps up the used bathwater left by his classmate Felix (Jacob Elordi).

The twisted tale follows Oxford University student Oliver as he befriends rich and charming Felix, who invites him to spend the summer at his family's sprawling country estate, Saltburn. To avoid putting Oliver in a separate wing of the mansion, Felix gives him a room adjoined to his own via a shared Jack and Jill bathroom.

Here, we get one of the movie's most memorable scenes. Oliver spies on Felix as he pleasures himself in a clawfoot tub. After Felix finishes and leaves the room, Oliver crawls into the tub and drinks the last bit of water from the bath as it swirls down the rusty drain.

The scene's shocking nature has led to countless TikToks and jokes, including a cocktail recipe inspired by the moment. You can even buy a candle on Etsy called "Jacob Elordi's Bathwater."

But if you're wondering what exactly Jacob Elordi's bathwater was made of, I've got you covered. Earlier this month, I jumped on a Zoom call with the movie's production designer, Suzie Davies, who shared plenty of details about the making of the now-famous bathtub scene.

One of the estate's bedrooms was transformed into a bathroom for the scene

According to Davies, Fennell's "Saltburn" script contained descriptions of the estate's appearance, including the exact location of Felix and Oliver's shared bathroom.

"The bathroom was described along with the whole walkthrough scene when Felix walks through showing Oliver the house," Davies told Business Insider. "The script described that the boys' bedrooms were along a run of rooms, so there was Felix's room, then a bathroom, and what was the dressing room, but they turned it into a bedroom for Oliver."

A location had to be found that matched Fennell's vision. Ultimately, production was set up in the privately owned Drayton House in Northamptonshire, a medieval-structured mansion housing a whopping 127 rooms — but not a single bathroom right for the scene.

"The most beautiful bathrooms, but could I find the one I could film in? No," she said. Since none of the lavatories worked for the movie's needs, Davies and her team had to create one in one of the many other rooms in the house.

"It was a spare bedroom with tapestry on the walls and a cream color," Davies explained of their chosen room. "We pulled out the bedroom, and I put the tiles on the floor. We put the bathtub there. We found that wallpaper that looks like muscles. We painted it high-gloss black. We painted the ceiling, and then we built those two vanity units with all the reflections."

The room was also given a specific smell. Fennell and Davies made it a point to give each setting their own scent. For Felix and Oliver's bedrooms and bathroom, that smell was Felix's aftershave.

"The aftershave he sprays on himself, that whole run of rooms would smell like that," Davies said.

Now, with the room set up, Davies had her next task: finding a bathtub with the right look that Elordi could also fit his 6-foot-5-inch frame in.

Multiple fiberglass bathtubs were made when they realized a real cast-iron tub could collapse through the floor

A soaking tub would be the scene's focal point. Davies came to learn that there are countless variations of tubs, but she decided that a cast-iron one would best fit Saltburn's style. This led her to a junkyard filled with 20 different tubs lying around.

"I would get the person who came with me to lay into the tub, to get an idea if Jacob could fit in it," Davies said. "Then we were trying to work out how to do the shot. The slurping shot. We were trying to figure out how to chop off sections of the tub for the camera angle."

But Davies couldn't use any of the tubs she saw that day because there was a weight restriction in the room they were filming in. A cast-iron tub would be too heavy and likely drop through the floor. As a workaround, a fiberglass reproduction of a cast-iron tub was made, and Davies' team gave it a mahogany look on the outside to match the room's vibe.

"In fact, we made a couple of bathtubs," she said. "With one, we chopped a hole in the side for the closeup shot of Barry slurping up the water."

Not a single detail was overlooked — even how much rust should be around the drain was considered.

"We wanted it to feel lived in. I started looking at different drains all in different looks of age," said Davies, who used edible paint to create the rust around the drain. "We had a long discussion because it's an old house, but they have a huge staff, so it wouldn't be too dirty."

But it was Fennell who gave the scene a final touch. She placed a rubber duck by the spout.

Keoghan slurped up a mix of yogurt, milk, and water in the tub — and did 4 different takes

Cinematographer Linus Madekwe's lighting of the scene would help determine what the bathwater needed to look like, so the mixture wasn't created until it was time to film. By then, Davies was already onto other projects for future scenes, so her stand-by prop team was on hand to concoct the bathwater.

Of course, what Keoghan ingested wasn't nearly as gnarly as what viewers are expected to believe it was.

He was drinking "yogurt and a bit of milk and some water," said Davies, who watched Keoghan film the moment from a monitor in another room where she was working.

"He did it four times and really went for it. Every one he did was a different kind of slurp," Davies said.

"Often, when you film things like that, there are 20 people in the room. It's quite tense," she said. "But the cast can bring something that's so extraordinary that you can hear a pin drop. So when Barry was doing his stuff, it was amazing. He had no inhibitions."

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