Deep Inside 'Mrs. Hyde': Avi Love & Axel Braun Open Up

LOS ANGELES—Avi Love appeared in almost every scene of The Possession of Mrs. Hyde, handling each dramatic turn with the poise of an acting veteran. But when it was time to drive director Axel Braun’s Rolls-Royce Dawn convertible down a deserted road before one of the movie’s most intense sequences, Love admits she felt the pressure.

“I think that’s what made me the most nervous was just driving his car,” Love jokes. “We did a test drive and he was like, ‘Just drive the car!’ I was like, ‘OK!’ I was driving like a grandma.”

Braun hand-picked the 23-year-old native of Las Vegas for the biggest role of her career as Valerie Hyde—a college student who is the daughter of Dr. Jekyll’s housekeeper—after being floored by the quality of her video audition.

The former lifeguard at Mandalay Bay tells AVN as soon as she got word that the Hall of Fame shot-caller picked her to play the lead of his first feature movie in 15 years that she started practicing her lines with her sisters.

“I just read it over and over and over again so I could understand the character and really portray who she is,” Love says. “I love being in front of the camera and I love performing. I think porn has helped me realize how much I truly love acting, even just playing small parts—like the girl next door—I get to be this character.

“I really got to make this character real.”

During the climactic sex scene—captured in a way that blurs the line between reality and fantasy—Valerie sees her mother (Reagan Foxx) get double-teamed by Ramon Nomar and Alex Legend, while her husband Edward Hyde (Seth Gamble) forces her to watch.

She reveals that her tussle with Gamble was “a lot of ad lib.”

“Seth is an amazing actor and that was his character,” Love says. “He made it easy for me because I could just respond to him.”

Love received two nominations for her dynamic performance—one for Best Actress and the other Best Boy/Girl Sex Scene with Nomar in their steamy limousine encounter—for the 2019 AVN Awards on January 26 in Las Vegas. And now more than two years into her career as an adult performer, Love says Mrs. Hyde ranks at the top of her industry experiences.

“I mean this movie has really brought my career to the next level,” she says.


Produced by Axel Braun Productions and Wicked Pictures, The Possession of Mrs. Hyde racked up nine AVN nominations, including Best Action/Thriller, Best Director-Feature, Best Three-Way Sex Scene, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Marketing Campaign.

It turns out the Rolls-Royce scene was the first thing Braun and his director of photography, Ben Hoffman, filmed in what became an epic six days of principal photography—some of which exceeded 20 hours.

The confrontation entailed Love’s Mrs. Hyde screaming at JP Hill (Dustin Daring)—who played Dr. Jekyll’s seemingly well-intentioned chemistry student—on the side of the road after he speeds past her in his Tesla Model S (which also belongs to Braun), makes her pull her over and shows her explicit photos of her mother blowing her husband.

Braun says they decided to roll the cameras for the rehearsal, instructing Love and Daring—a 2019 nominee for Best Male Newcomer—to “just show us something.”

“And that’s what’s in the movie,” Braun says. “That kind of set the tone for the whole experience."

He tells AVN a major reason why The Possession of Mrs. Hyde was 30 years in the making is because he had not found the ideal actress to play Valerie.

“We always kind of stumbled on who can play the lead?” Braun explains. “I had shot Avi in an all-sex movie and I thought she was great. But of course there was no dialogue. She’s a great performer with a great look—she has the look for this. But can she act?”

That’s when Braun contacted Love’s agents at Nexxt Level Talent—the producers turned talent reps Jonathan Morgan and Andre Madness, who went to work on Love’s audition reel. What they sent Braun wasn’t “just an audition tape,” he says.

“It’s a fucking movie,” Braun says. “They shoot it. It’s cut. It’s lit. Sometimes it just helps you to see things in a different way.

“First of all—and this is a very important thing—it shows you the level of commitment that somebody can have to a project. For this movie, I didn’t do auditions in person; I just had video auditions.

“When I saw her audition tape—literally, because we got a million of them—I watched it with my wife and we both got goosebumps in like eight seconds. We said, ‘Oh my god, this girl’s fucking great!’”


Braun co-wrote the screenplay with his late father, Golden Age filmmaking pioneer Lasse Braun, and his now 26-year-old son, Rikki Braun, starting in 1988.

Using black-and-white CinemaScope 2.35:1 as his medium, the four-time AVN Director of the Year Axel Braun set out to expand the narrative of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, while staying true to the original characters.

“It took so many different shapes,” Axel recalls. “We started writing it as a mainstream thing and it was a period piece—Victorian era. My father wanted to make this a mainstream movie. You start navigating this and it became so many different things over the years and then we reworked it; and then we reworked it in a different way.

“And then it was going to be a porn movie that my father was going to make that we were going to write together and he was going to direct. Then he wanted me to direct.”

Braun reveals that when he finally decided to green-light it—after being inspired during his extensive interview with AVN editor Sharan Street for the June 2018 AVN cover story—he first offered the movie to Rikki to helm. Rikki had added some of his own personal touches to the script while he was going to film school.

“Originally, I wanted my son to direct it,” Axel says. “Because I felt to bring the whole legacy thing together that should be his—the final thing.”

He remembers texting with Rikki about it, sharing their mutual excitement that, “I can’t believe it’s finally happening.”

“And then I go to sleep and I wake up in the morning and I find a long message from him and he said, ‘I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity. This is a dream. But the reality is you should be the one to direct.’ And for him to give up something so big—it was extremely inspiring.”

Braun continues, “He’s a young kid who graduated from film school and paid his dues working a million jobs for me on set. Then he got to make a movie that was a great movie that I wrote for him and that he literally took and did his own thing without any guidance. It was Exposed last year and he got seven AVN nominations on his very first movie. He’s been shooting for Wicked ever since. For him to give up something that’s like—this is going to make my career—was yet another piece of inspiration that I found to make this project what it was. So I want to give him credit for wanting to give it up.”

Without question, Braun says there was a “serendipity” that marked so much of the production that even he still cannot fully comprehend. He zeroed in on Gamble—who has emerged as one of the finest actors of his generation—for the role of Mr. Hyde when he was with Gamble at the mask fitting for his terrific turn in Deadpool XXX, which also was released in September.

“I’m thinking about this as we were waiting for the mold of Seth’s head to come out,” Braun recalls. “Seth all of a sudden was looking at something. He had this look—and I saw it. I saw Hyde in him. Something in the light was hitting him a certain way and he had this quality. If you see him he’s almost like an Errol Flynn or Clark Gable. Some star from back in the days.”

Gamble, the 2011 AVN Best Male Newcomer, played Luke Skywalker in Braun’s seven-time AVN Award-winning Star Wars XXX parody—in 2012, among other roles such as Captain Boomerang in Suicide Squad XXX (2016) and a supporting role in 24 XXX (2014).

“Every time I’ve won Movie of the Year he’s been on stage with me. He’s always in it,” Braun says. “This is the guy who at 5 a.m.—when my lighting guy is laying down, staring at the ceiling because his arms don’t work anymore—and when we get through two or three takes and we’re like, ‘It’s good.’ And he looks at me, ‘I hear you saying it’s good. I know we’re exhausted. But is it great?’ And I go, ‘It’s good.’ He’s like, ‘Let’s do one more.’”

Avi Love believes Gamble elevated her performance. Not only did they share a ton of dialogue, they also delivered a high-stakes anal scene.

“It was an awesome experience working with Seth because he’s so passionate,” says Love, who had some theatre experience from high school but had yet to land a high-profile acting role in adult until Hyde. “I’m extremely passionate about acting, too, so it was just cool to be acting with him. It was a great experience.”

Braun notes that at his request, Gamble grew a mustache for his role as hotshot lawyer Edward Hyde, who has both a charming and dangerous side.

“So we did a mustache test. He had a beard and he went home and he cut the whole beard and he left the mustache and sent me a picture. I was like, ‘Fuck, that’s amazing. That’s it,’” Braun says.

“I said, ‘I don’t want you to have a mustache for anybody else. This look has to be just for this movie. So every time we shot, he would have a beard. He would shave it the day of, and leave the mustache. And as soon as we wrapped—unless we were shooting the next day—he would shave down the mustache and grow it again. So he never went anywhere with just the mustache.”


Whether it was Gamble’s facial hair, Alex Legend performing with a condom for the first time (in his scene with Reagan Foxx and Nomar), or pulling the incomparable Tom Byron out of retirement to play Dr. Jekyll, everything seemed to align for Braun & Co.

Braun calls Byron the Robert DeNiro of porn. A Hall of Famer who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars XXX, Byron has won seven AVN Awards for acting and is a two-time AVN Male Performer of the Year (1998-99).

“Tommy was the final cohesive moment,” Braun says. “The first movie that I wrote in 1990 called Fantasy Nights—my father produced it, Henri Pachard directed it and Alex DeRenzy shot it. So it was this big culmination of who’s who in porn at the time and I was part of it because I’m associated with these people.

“To me it was mind-blowing that not only the movie that I wrote for my dad was getting made, but that it was getting made with all these fantastic people around.

“And Tommy was young back then… I was on set to do behind-the-scenes camera. This was my first set, my first porn movie that I worked on. So me and Tom just immediately clicked and got along so well. Just the fact that 30 years later this happens and I can get him as a more mature guy to play that role—which as usual he nailed beyond what I imagined.”

Braun continues, “You know what he has? Tommy has something that very few actors can pull off. And the first name that comes to mind is Robert DeNiro in his heyday back with like Once Upon a Time in America. He doesn’t have to say anything or do anything. His face just conveys the emotion. Without exaggerating. He can just be staring and you know what’s going on there. And there’s something about Tommy that he can do that—just with a look.”

Considering Gamble’s stellar body of work thus far, it’s not a stretch to say he is following a similar trajectory.

“You find a redeeming quality in Hyde. I think where that really comes across the best is in their first date scene,” Braun reasons. “You see him—this is a charming guy. This is a funny guy. He’s attractive. He’s somebody that somebody like [Avi] could be attracted to.

“Seth has the twinkle in his eyes to make him creepy but he also has the smile that makes him charming.

“So it was an exercise in subtlety and in trying to dig deeper in each character and try to develop this character as deep as we can within the timeframe that we have. I was very, very happy about the way they worked together. When you see the chemistry. She managed to have chemistry with everybody.”

That includes Kenna James, who left viewers wanting more in her supporting role as Valerie’s mischievous best friend.

“We really had a great connection—I was so happy it was her,” Love says. “I was kind of nervous about who was going to be cast as my best friend because you have to have that connection and Kenna really—we just vibed so well.”

Meanwhile, Love got naked with Spanish heart-throb Ramon Nomar for the first time, seducing and then fucking him in the back of a limo with no air conditioning on a 100-degree day.

“We were drenched and the seats were soaking wet,” Love says of their session that is a serious contender for the top boy/girl sex scene honor in porn. “It was fun though. It was true, hot sweaty sex. It made it so much hotter."

Love also hooked up in a scalding session with Charlotte Stokely, who plays Hyde’s kinky secretary.

“That was also my first time working with Charlotte Stokely and she’s an amazing performer,” Love says. “I feel like we just kind of went for it. It just happened. We had amazing chemistry. It was 5 a.m. We were tired, but we were still able to bring it out.”

Braun says Stokely has been a go-to girl for him since he cast her in Justice League XXX last year.

“She’s just fantastic,” he says. “Stokely was really excited to be working with Avi. We kept them kind of apart until that moment to build the sexual tension. The whole beginning was very carefully planned how it would go. And when I wrote that I literally wrote that for Stokely. That was never a doubt in mind.”

The director says he didn’t shoot a close-up of their pussy eating because “that beginning is so strong you don’t need to see it.”

“I wanted to let it be as real as possible and as intense as possible,” he says.


Whether it was sex or dialogue, Love managed to find her rhythm with everyone in Mrs. Hyde, including one of adult’s most decorated actresses, Jessica Drake, the longtime Wicked Girl who is a three-time AVN Best Actress winner.

Drake plays a hard-edged behavioral analyst for the FBI in a showdown with Mrs. Hyde that unfolds in an interrogation room.

Her character is this strong woman, like, ‘I’m not going to take any bullshit. I’m going to play you.’ And who is getting played here in this whole conversation?” Braun says. “It was very interesting to witness the dynamic. Here we have a fantastic woman, performer and humanitarian with a million acting awards whose been in the industry forever and is an icon for so many people.

“And here we have a brand new girl. And they’re at the table. You see Avi in person... You see her personality. You can imagine she would be intimidated working with Jessica Drake, doing this all-important scene. And as soon as we start… As soon as the camera is on, she becomes the person who is antagonizing her and playing her. It was very intense.”

Braun continues, “When you can come into something like this and hold your own in spades with somebody like Jessica it speaks a lot to… I have to say in 30 years I have not seen a performance like this. I have not. I’d like to say that I have. I’ve shot over 650 movies. I have not seen something that blew me away like this.

“And Kleio Valentien was incredible…she won Best Supporting Actress in my Batman vs. Superman and the next year she won Best Actress for playing the same character [in Suicide Squad XXX].

“… When [Valerie’s] in bed and the alarm goes off and she gets up, I believe it. I believe everything that’s happening. I see it in her eyes. I can see inside her soul. … I could not separate Avi from Mrs. Hyde by the end of the shoot."

Braun enjoyed Love’s portrayal of Valerie so much that he even shot an impromptu cameo of Love as Mrs. Hyde in Deadpool XXX.

“She’s at the bar. This is like a 30-second thing with no rehearsal or anything. I just pulled it out of my ass the day of. She says three words, but suddenly it’s Mrs. Hyde. Very impressive,” Braun says.

“I really am not easily impressed. When something like this happens to me this is what gives everything meaning. People get into this industry for a million different reasons and I was lucky that the doors were open for me because of my father.

“But the bottom line is that all I wanted to do is make movies. That’s why I’ve been doing this. I wanted to tell stories and make movies. So when you get to do something that transcends, ‘OK, I’m going to have five sex scenes, we’re going to have this position…’ When you get to do something when you have—A, the freedom to do it and B—and of course I’ve got to give credit to Wicked Pictures and Steve Orenstein for always allowing me as much latitude as humanly possible to just do what I want to do. Because they trust what I want to bring to the table and that is so important for me.

“It’s not easy to find a company that lets you do it. But in the end it’s really getting down to—wow, we told this story and we made this movie.”

Love says she never once felt the weight of her role was too much to bear, given the history of the script and the expectations that came with the project.

“I just felt really comfortable and I felt like I was in my place and I was around family,” she says. “So it was so easy for me. I didn’t feel that pressure. It was just natural.”

She even gave her interpretation of the unconventional ending.

“I feel like my character—I was like in love with Seth, Mr. Hyde,” she explains. “And when Mr. Hill tries to come onto me and he tries to make me feel like I need to leave my husband and all of this, I’m just like, ‘What?’ So I just go crazy and then on top of that, the medicine I take. I feel like it brings my evil side out...”

Braun adds, “The addiction between her and Seth is an addiction that is not just chemical. There is an addiction to their personalities. The fact that she can become this different person. Then this person can only exist in relation with this other character. … I noticed that the way she has become the evil part made her also become more free. It made her become more empowered. She’s now in control of the situation.

“Her fears are what have been keeping her down. There’s so many ways to look at the movie over and over again. Her fears are in the dream, but in real life she’s now in control. So JP [Hill]—who is this pure good that’s trying to get her—it’s JP and Hyde clashing. They each want to tell you who’s right and who’s wrong.

“To her in that state, in that moment, in that relationship, he’s not the good guy. Here is somebody who is attacking my relationship. And she has this father figure who is Dr. Jekyll. And this husband, lover figure that is Mr. Hyde. And all of a sudden [JP] is the guy that should be the nice guy but she’s like, ‘I’m way past that stage now. I found myself.’

“It really is a movie about female empowerment, if you will. This is a girl becoming a woman—warts and all. She’s becoming somebody who is in control. And the catalyst for this is Mr. Hyde.”


Photos courtesy of Wicked Pictures