To prepare for the part of Mildred Pierce’s daughter, Veda, in HBO’s Depression-era miniseries “Mildred Pierce,” Evan Rachel Wood worked for months with piano and dialect coaches. But there was one aspect of the role that no amount of studying could ready her for – full-frontal nudity.
“I was a lot more nervous than I thought I was going to be,” Wood said of the shocking scene she has at the end of the series’ fifth and final installment opposite Kate Winslet, who stars as Mildred Pierce.
“I hadn’t made my mind up if I was going to go full until we were rehearsing, and I was talking to Todd [Haynes, the series’ writer and director] – like ‘What do you think?’ – and he was like, ‘I think we’re going to be chickening out if we don’t just go for it.’”
At a New York press event for the miniseries, a retelling of the classic James M. Cain novel, Wood told us she credits Winslet, who famously bared all in “The Reader,” for giving her the courage to strip. “I looked at Kate and she was like, ‘You’ve got to do it. Trust me, it’s so brave. Put a merkin on and you’ll be fine.’” A merkin? “Let’s just say, I had to wear a wig because it was in the 30s, and everything had to look like it was in the 30s,” explained Wood with a laugh.
“Kate helped me,” she continued. “She gave me strength. She kind of dared me. I also felt I had to prove it to myself. I had to do it at least once — get it all on film now so when I’m 80 I can look back at it and say, ‘Yeah! I did that!’”
What about “True Blood,” a show that seems to have nudity written into ever actor’s contract? Wood, who stars as vampire queen Sophie-Anne, said she’s still waiting to be asked to disrobe. But even then, she nervously confessed, “I don’t know. It depends. I can’t say I had a lot of fun.”
Watch The Trailer For “Mildred Pierce”: