In a recent interview with W Magazine, rising star Carey Mulligan opened up about the nude scene in her latest movie, the gritty Steve McQueen-directed film “Shame.”

In “Shame,” Mulligan takes on the role of troubled, provocative Sissy, the younger sister of a sex addict played by Michael Fassbender.

Mulligan’s role in the NC-17 film required her to act out a suicide attempt, have an almost incestuous bond to her fake-sibling… and go completely nude on screen for the first time.

Going nude for ‘Shame’

At first, Carey Mulligan was reluctant to do a nude scene on film, especially if it was a sex scene.

“I’ve always been sort of staunchly feminist about it,” Mulligan, 26, told W. “I’ve never relished the idea of doing it, and never if it was inappropriate or gratuitous in any way.”

The role itself was also quite a departure from Mulligan’s roles in the past. Though the actress has done some “semi-nude,” “very innocent” shots before, she’d never felt comfortable with the idea of going full nude on-screen.

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Once she was pushed into it by director Steve McQueen, however, Carey Mulligan discovered something she hadn’t expected: that nude scenes are “kind of fun.”

‘I’m naked, ha, ha, ha.’

It helped that Sissy, the character Mulligan plays in “Shame,” has the exact opposite view about going nude that Mulligan does.

“It was absolutely right,” the actress said, recalling when she stripped down. “She wanted to be seen, she’s an exhibitionist and she’s provocative.”

She even took a moment to bask in the freedom of nudity on-set. “You take your clothes off, and you’re like, ‘Ah, all of you are wearing clothes and I’m naked, ha, ha, ha,” Mulligan laughed.

Mulligan is careful, however, to say that one nude scene won’t open the door to gratuitous sex scenes in the future. “Not that I would continue to do that [go naked],” Mulligan said. “The nudity helped me dive into who she was.”

‘It wasn’t about whether I looked good naked.’

One thing Carey Mulligan wasted no time in worrying about? Her figure.

Unlike many other actresses, who spend weeks in the gym before going naked on-screen, Mulligan shot the nude scene on her first day of filming. She was lucky enough to be working with a director on a character whose nude scene was about presence, not sex appeal.

“I didn’t have to worry about what I ate, or how much I drank, and I didn’t have to work out,” Mulligan explained. “She [Sissy] was an alcoholic mess… It was so much more exciting to play that character that didn’t worry about her appearance in any way.”

“I knew that when I stood up in that bath naked, it wasn’t about whether I looked good naked or not,” she said. “It was about who she was.”

‘I couldn’t stop crying.’

In the interview with W, Carey Mulligan also discussed Sissy’s suicide attempt, a scene that Mulligan said left her feeling “horrible.”

“I was sitting there, and this fake blood was pumping out of my arms, and I was in this completely hopeless state with a kitchen knife next to me,” she recalls. “I wasn’t expecting it, it was a complete surprise… I felt awful.”

The scene touched her, even though she’d never experienced what Sissy had gone through.

“I’m fine,” she assured interviewers. “I’m great and well adjusted and everything’s cool, but just the idea of being that helpless and that lonely, it was just really sad. I got into the taxi at the end of the day and I couldn’t stop crying.”

Singing for Steve McQueen

Carey Mulligan may have gotten over her nude scene and lived through her character Sissy’s suicide attempt, but there was still one more hurdle for the actress to overcome: singing.

“I’ve never sung in a movie before,” the actress, who’s engaged to musician Marcus Mumford, confessed. When she was asked to sing “New York, New York” in the film, the set went through around fifteen takes before McQueen opted for something else.

“At one point, he wanted Sissy to sing something else, and asked me to make up a song,” she said. “He said, ‘You’re an artist, aren’t you? We can’t afford the rights to a famous song, so make one up!’”

Mulligan paced the set frantically, trying to come up with a song. In the end, “I made up this really bluesy song and sang two lines.”

Looking back, however, Carey Mulligan again puts the character of Sissy above her own hesitancy as an actress. “The point wasn’t really that Sissy was a great singer,” she told W. “It was more that she attracted people.”

With her first nude scene, some intense sequences with Michael Fassbender, and the promise of seeing her directed by Steve McQueen, it’s fair to say that Carey Mulligan is doing some attracting of her own.

 

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