It may be called "Shame," but Carey Mulligan's latest film is perhaps her most open and honest role yet.
Mulligan has made a meteoric rise through show business over the past few years in a very unconventional way. Instead of romantic comedies and teen movies, she's tackled dramas such as "An Education" and "Drive." Still, she has often projected a sort of innocence in her films. But in "Shame," Mulligan plays the troubled younger sister of a sex addict portrayed by Michael Fassbender, and in the NC-17 film, she explores taboo subjects such as suicide and full frontal nudity.
In an early scene, she appears completely naked, coming out of the shower and taking her brother by surprise. It is not just a quick cut, either; she has multiple lines of dialogue while standing there in full view of the camera.
"I've never, never been naked in a film before; I've been topless once or twice, but always in sort of very innocent ways," Mulligan told MakingOf.com. "And I've always been sort of staunchly feminist about it, I've never relished the idea of doing it, and never if it was inappropriate or gratuitous in any way. But I just felt it was absolutely right; that's exactly who she was. She wanted to be seen, she's an exhibitionist and she's provocative."
Mulligan has spoken about the nude scene before, recently telling HitFix.com that she approached the scene in a different way than most.
"I didn't have to worry about what I ate, or how much I drank, and I didn't have to work out," she explained. "She was an alcoholic mess. She didn't have any money to dye her hair. I mean I didn't become an alcoholic, but I didn't have to watch myself. 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. It was about who she was."
Warning: SPOILER Below
There is also a moment in the film when Mulligan's character attempts suicide, cutting her wrist and bleeding heavily. She told MakingOf that she at first took the scene, and the prosthetics they put on her wrist, lightly, but as the scene was being filmed, that mood changed.
"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 remembered. "And it was horrible, it was really horrible and I wasn't expecting it, it was a complete surprise, and I felt awful. It sounds so pretentious, but it just made me feel horrible. I felt devastated and I felt so sad. And I'm fine. 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."
"Shame" hits theaters on December 2nd. For much more from Mulligan, click over to MakingOf.