Directed by Ethan, 52, the biopic stars Maya, 25, as the late American novelist Flannery O’Connor as she struggles to get her first novel published.
The Stranger Things actor also plays six other characters from the author’s short stories.
O’Connor died aged 39 in 1964 of lupus – a disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. She does not have a love interest in the film; however, a few of the characters from her short stories portrayed by Maya do engage in sex scenes.
“We were so comfortable with it. I couldn’t care less,” Ethan said about overseeing Maya’s intimate scenes with her co-stars Rafael Casal and Licorice Pizza breakout Cooper Hoffman.
“We needed to take care of Rafael and Cooper,” Ethan told Variety, laughing. “I think it was weird for them.”
In one scene from O’Connor’s short story Good Country People, Hawke plays a young woman with a wooden leg who has sex on the floor of a hayloft with a Bible salesman (Hoffman).
Another shows Hawke as a woman from the author’s short story Parker’s Back who is felt up by a good-for-nothing man (Casal) in the bed of his pickup truck.
“We made sure to have an intimacy coordinator on set for them. So that they felt safe and comfortable and not like they were being spied on...” Maya joked, with Ethan finishing her sentence: “... by some creepy dad.”
Elsewhere in the interview, conducted amid the ongoing actors’ and writers’ strike, the two addressed the infamous “nepo baby” discourse – a viral internet debate about the privileges of celebrity children.
“I had moments of insecurity about it while we were shooting the movie,” Maya, who is also one of the film’s producers, admitted. “But the internet doesn’t have a lot of nuances. My dad has been a massive teacher for me, and we want to work together. We like being with each other.”
“If someone wants to criticise us for working together, that’s totally fair,” Ethan said. “You have to let people have their opinion. You just have to try to do a good job when you’re onstage.”
Wildcat, which made its world premiere on 1 September at this year’s Telluride Film Festival, is among a number of “truly independent” projects that have been granted interim agreements by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).