Joanna Lumley, 74, admits she 'hated' filming topless scenes
EXCLUSIVE: ‘You’d never see the front of a man, but always a woman’: Joanna Lumley, 74, admits she ‘hated’ filming topless scenes but claims ‘every actress’ was expected to strip off
Joanne Lumley has admitted she ‘hated’ filming topless scenes.
Speaking with Esther Rantzen on her That’s After Life! podcast, the Absolutely Fabulous star, 74, said she quickly realised there were different expectations for male and female actors when it came to showing skin on-screen.
Joanna famously appeared topless in the 1971 film Games That Lovers Play, in which she starred alongside Penny Brahms as a brothel owner.
‘You never saw the front of a man’: Joanne Lumley has admitted she used to ‘hate’ filming topless scenes as a young actress as there was an expectation ‘every actress’ had to strip off
Joanna said she once refused to read for a role in a film as she found it ‘too foul and vulgar’ thanks to the extensive amount of nudity.
As she was still at the early stages of her career, she said the director warned her she’d never be a star if she turned down such scenes.
Joanna explained: ‘I can remember on a casting list for a film to be made called Shaft, which eventually became a big hit and one of the great casting directors Maude Spector gave two pages to look at before we went in with the directors.
Revealing: The Absolutely Fabulous star famously appeared in a topless scene for the 1971 film Games That Lovers Play
‘I looked at it and it was so foul and vulgar and Maude and the directors said “next” and I remember saying I can’t do this.
‘I’m so sorry I’m going to give it back to you and they were furious and I remember Maude shouting after me ”you want to be an actress?”
‘But it was filthy, filthy filthy, squalid sex addict sex worker stuff, this isn’t part of the film it was more stuff very prevalent at the time that girls had to take their top off at one stage and men’s bottoms were always funny because all bottoms look the same.’
No thanks: Speaking with Esther Rantzen on her That’s After Life! podcast, Joanna said she once refused to read for a role in a film as she found it ‘too foul and vulgar’
Joanna added that back when she was a young actress, women were expected to strip off on-screen, which was something she never enjoyed.
She added: ‘You’d never see the front of a man but you’d always see the front of a woman.
‘All women were expected to go topless, Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Christie, we all had to take our top off. It was part of the titilation of the time.
‘Yes, I was in a film called the Breaking Of Bumbo and I was in that with the gorgeous Richard Warwick we were doing one of these love scenes where we walked towards each other both naked as the day were born, but guess what you saw Richard’s back and bottom and you see all my front.
‘That was par of the course. I hated nude scenes. I never longed to strip off and run into the sea. I’m quite a prude.’
Showing it off: She said: ‘Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Christie, we all had to take our top off. It was part of the titilation of the time’ (pictured in 1973’s Don’t Just Lie There, Say Something)
In 2018 Joanna stated she felt pressured to appear topless as she feared not being taken seriously as an actress, and in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, claimed sexual harassment ‘was – and is – everywhere.’
It comes after Joanna said she was once propositioned by legendary singer Frank Sinatra at a party as her career was just taking off in the 1960s.
Lumley, then in her early 20s, was a relative unknown while attending a star-studded showbiz party thrown by film producer Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli following her brief appearance in 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Outspoken: In 2018 Joanna stated she felt pressured to appear topless as she feared not being taken seriously as an actress
Recalling the moment she caught Sinatra’s eye during an online chat with Gyles Brandreth, she said: ‘There were some pretty girls, and I had been a Bond girl, so I was a “pretty girl” and was allowed to go along.
I put on a nice dress, and I was thinking, “I get to see Frank Sinatra!”
The actress was duly introduced to Sinatra by party host David Niven, Jr – the son of actor David Niven.
She said: ‘I went and stood by the door and Old Blue Eyes got out of the limousine and came in with much greeting, bants and chuffing and so on.’
‘Niv Jr said, “This is Joanna Lumley.” And Frank looked at me with those great blue eyes and said, “Shall we leave now?”‘
By then well into his 50s, Sinatra’s third marriage to the significantly younger Mia Farrow had ended a year or so prior to his meeting with Lumley, who has been married to conductor Stephen Barlow since 1986.
Old times: It comes after Joanna said she was once propositioned by legendary singer Frank Sinatra at a party as her career was just taking off (pictured in 1969)
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