The actor, 47, admitted that it was a “big deal” for him to film his first nude scene in Guillermo del Toro‘s next project. “I remember reading in the script and thinking, ‘He’s a pickled punk in that bathtub and it’s to story. You have to do it,'” Cooper recalled while with the KCRW show The Business in an episode released on Monday, January 17.
The Oscar nominee added that there was “nothing gratuitous” about the scene, which helped him agree to film it. “Because the content of what the movie is, what we were exploring, in order to do it in a real way, it demanded that we’d be naked emotionally and soulfully,” Cooper explained.
A remake of the 1940s noir of the same name, Nightmare Alley centers on Cooper’s character, Stanton Carlisle, a former carnival worker who uses his skills to present himself as a mentalist. The psychological thriller required Cooper to strip down and sit in a bathtub during a steamy scene opposite Toni Collette.
Though he was OK with the nudity in theory, Cooper revealed that it was difficult to actually shed his clothes in front of Collette, 49. “I can still remember that day just to be naked in front of the crew for six hours, and it was Toni Collette’s first day,” he said. “It was just like, ‘Whoa.’ It was pretty heavy.”
Filming on Nightmare Alley was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the cast and crew to take a six-month break in the middle of production. “We have been making Nightmare Alley for the last two and a half years,” Cooper said at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2021. “It was a unique experience, going through the pandemic, taking six months off and revisiting it.”
“I’m with my daughter [Lea De Seine] and my mother and my two dogs, and we have not left the house,” the actor recalled during an August 2020 conversation for Interview magazine. “My mother is going to be 80, and she has a colostomy bag, so I can’t let anybody in the house. And I can’t leave the house, because if she gets it, it’s over.”
Nightmare Alley is in theaters now.