Friday, June 15, 2012

Lara Pulver: The infamous 111-second scene with Sherlock that made my career go pop Rosamund Urwin 15 June 2012 (LONDON EVENING STANDARD)

If Lara Pulver is sick of talking about that scene, she does a convincing job of hiding it. But the one thought about her naked turn as dominatrix Irene Adler in BBC1’s Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch that she can’t stomach is that some of the 2.5 million viewers who watched it on iPlayer might have paused every frame. At this, she looks horrified, puts her fingers in her ears and sings: “La la la la la. I don’t want to know.”

When I mentioned to male colleagues that I had interviewed Pulver, they went gooey-eyed — although the 31-year-old has plenty of female admirers too. And now she has won international recognition for the role, with a nomination for the American Critics’ Choice Television Awards, alongside Jessica Lange,  Julianne Moore and Emily Watson.

“I’ve won, just in my name being read out with those ladies,” she says. “It’s so weird. You never know in an acting career what’s going to pop. I’ve done one 90-minute episode and more people talk to me about that than anything else.”

When she read the script for A Scandal in Belgravia, she had just finished filming the final series of Spooks, and was flying back to Los Angeles, where the Kent-born actress lives: “It was one of those moments when you think ‘turn the plane around! I have to do this job’.”

As well as drawing in almost nine million TV viewers on the night, the episode also attracted 100 complaints. “I think the human form is something to celebrate. And you don’t actually see anything. That’s why we spent eight hours shooting that scene because if you saw a tiny bit of nipple ...” She breaks off. “It is so cleverly shot by [director] Paul McGuigan, that it is what you don’t see that makes your imagination go crazy.”

Shooting the scene sounds a logistical nightmare: “Our producer was going through it with the BBC — ‘So you can have one out-of-focus buttock but not two out-of-focus buttocks.’ It was kinda hilarious what she had to adhere to.”

Pulver was completely nude for the scene “apart from Louboutins and some beautiful diamond earrings”, turning down the offer of a self-adhesive gel bra and pants: “They actually made me feel more uncomfortable.”

But there were filming considerations too: “Paul McGuigan took me to one side and said: ‘Look, we’re going to spend probably 14 hours shooting this with that stuff on because if we see a glimpse of it, we can’t use it.’ [Being naked gave] an inch more space to play with. Otherwise, if I wasn’t spot on my mark, it was a complete waste of time ... It would have been: ‘We have to go again, we can see a bit of gel bra coming out of Benedict’s left eye’.” She admits being “scared out of her wits to take her clothes off” but adds: “It was empowering to go, ‘In my rawest physical form, in my skin and bones, I am okay.’ I didn’t crumble. I had a minor freak out inside but was able to do my job.”


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