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James Norton believes society is “scared of the penis”.
The 37-year-old actor is set to bare all in new play ‘A Little Life’ and while he’s ready for the nude scenes, he is unsure if the audience will be, though he believes the sexes have different approaches to seeing genitalia.
He told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: “There’s still a block when it comes to male nudity, about the penis, and what it looks like, and its size and its shape – and all these things of which we as a culture are still very wary.
“We’re scared of the penis. Men, I think, we’re far more obsessed with it. I mean, women I’ve asked are like, ‘I don’t care, you know, it’s just a penis, whatever’.”
James insisted going nude on stage is “so justified and so necessary” for the story being told.
He said: “But in general, it’s a bit like the violence in this piece and the self-harm: none of it is gratuitous – the nudity is so justified and so necessary in order to find the ultimate shame this man is put through.
“Without it, the story and the piece would suffer; none of it is gratuitous.
“And I feel it. We did one of the scenes recently and, my god, it’s shaming, you know, I lie on the floor naked being kicked and spat on – and it doesn’t get much more degrading than that. I’m there, there’s no journey I have to go on. It’s really embarrassing and horrible.”
But the ‘Happy Valley’ star admitted it has been “very weird” stripping off for rehearsals with co-stars Omari Douglas, Luke Thompson and Zach Wyatt.
He said: “We’re rehearsing, so you’re in a very light room – it’s like being in your workplace and just getting naked, which is very weird.
“In the theatre, even though there’s going to be a hundred times more people, it will be much easier, with the lights [down] and the atmosphere, it will just make sense. Whereas now, because you’re stopping and starting, it feels more exposing.”