James Norton has shared he will go completely naked on stage for a new play and admitted he felt ‘exposed’ preparing for the hard-hitting scene.
The actor, 37, is about to star in the stage adaptation of the 2015 novel A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and said the role involves appearing nude live on stage.
James described the scene as ‘shaming’ and ‘degrading’ for his character Jude and explained that it sees him lying on the floor naked while he is kicked and spat on.
He said he felt the nudity was justified and necessary to show the ‘shame’ Jude is put through, describing the moment as ’embarrassing and horrible’.
The Happy Valley star also confessed to feeling ‘massively exposed’ when preparing for the role, saying he had only ever appeared naked on stage before ‘briefly’.
Baring all: James Norton has shared that he will go completely naked on stage for a new play and admitted he felt ‘exposed’ preparing for the scene
On stage: The actor, 37, is about to star in the stage adaptation of the 2015 novel A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and said the role involves appearing nude live on stage
He told The Telegraph: ‘What makes it harder right now is that we’re rehearsing, so you’re in a very light room – it’s like being in your workplace and just getting naked, which is very weird.’
James went on to speak more broadly about male nudity in scenes, admitting he believes society is still wary about it.
He explained: ‘There’s still a block when it comes to male nudity, about the penis, and what it looks like, and its size and its shape – and all these things of which we as a culture are still very wary. ‘We’re scared of the penis.’
It is not the first time that James has gone naked for a role as he previously bared all in 2014 comedy-drama film Bonobo.
A Little Life follows four friends who have moved from a small college town to New York City and includes scenes of violence, sexual abuse and self-harm.
The Ivo van Hove production has been described by some critics as ‘trauma porn’ but James assured theatre-goers that no depictions in the play are gratuitous.
The play has been shown in New York and has drawn criticism, with reports of audience members leaving during the interval.
James said he had heard of people leaving the show as an act of protest because they find the book ‘objectionable’ but he urged people to instead consider the play as a whole.
Rehearsals: The Happy Valley star confessed to feeling ‘massively exposed’ when preparing for the role, saying he had only ever appeared naked on stage before ‘briefly’
Cast: The production, which will open at the Harold Pinter Theatre later this month, also stars the likes of Bridgerton’s Luke Thompson and It’s A Sin actor Omari Douglas (pictured)
The production, which will open at the Harold Pinter Theatre later this month, also stars the likes of Bridgerton’s Luke Thompson, It’s A Sin actor Omari Douglas and Zach Wyatt.
His latest stage role comes after huge success for James, who blew fans away with his final performance as notorious villain Tommy-Lee Royce in Happy Valley.
The final episode aired in February, concluding the three series, nine-year cat and mouse game between Sgt Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) and Tommy Lee Royce.
And on Thursday, James shared a behind-the-scenes clip from the climatic final episode of the BBC drama.
Warning fans who hadn’t yet finished the series that it would spoil the ending, he showed exactly how the crew made his character go up into flames.
The filming was done with the help of stunt double Leo Woodruff on set, who was actually the one playing criminal Tommy Lee Royce as he caught fire in the scene.
Recording from the side of the set, James captured the moment that his brave stunt double was set on fire – with crew on hand to coat him in a specially prepared flammable gel beforehand, then extinguishing him straight away.
Fans of the drama were shocked to see that the stunt had actually taken place, with many rushing to the comment section to admit that they thought it was the work of CGI.
The dramatic scene shows villain of the show Tommy (James) finally give in after running from his crimes for three seasons.
Defeated, he finds himself face to face with enemy Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) and admits he ‘doesn’t hate her anymore’.
Dousing himself in gasoline, the criminal decides that he’d rather not be alive than go back to prison – pulling out his lighter to set himself on fire.
As viewers had to excruciatingly watch the character go up into flames, many assumed it was the handy work of computer generated imagery.
But this week, James shared exactly how the scene was organically carried out as he posted a video which captured the moment on set.
James and Sarah had both been swapped out for their stunt doubles, with Leo – who looks incredibly similar to James – taking seat as Tommy.
He is thought to be wearing several layers of protective clothing, including fire-resistant materials like asbestos – while crew could then be seen rubbing specially prepared flammable gel over Leo.
As he gets lit up into flames, the stunt double stands up before falling down to the ground, where Sarah’s stand-in comes to cover him with a crochet blanket, scenes which viewers will recognise.
But what couldn’t be seen on screen is the two crew members who put the fire out just seconds later with extinguishers.
Impressively, Leo then jumps to his feet and flashes a thumbs up towards the crew, assuring that he’s fine after being set into flames.
James then panned the camera to the rest of the set where a large crew were gathered with equipment, while Sarah also sat nearby watching on.
Directors could be seen watching the scene back on cameras to ensure that they got the correct angle.
Incredible: His latest stage role comes after huge success for James, who blew fans away with his final performance as notorious villain Tommy-Lee Royce in Happy Valley
Stunt: And on Thursday, James shared a behind-the-scenes clip from the climatic final episode of the BBC drama
Tense scenes: Warning fans who hadn’t yet finished the series that it would spoil the ending, he showed exactly how the crew made his character go up into flames
The actor also added in a snap of himself and stunt double Leo both dressed as Tommy – with the duo looking strikingly similar.
‘SPOILER ALERT, waited a beat before posting in case people hadn’t caught up,’ wrote James over the video.
While he captioned: ‘HAPPY VALLEY BTS — final scene — Huge respect to @leonardstunts, my stunt double. The man literally goes up in flames #happyvalley #bts’.
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