February 4, 2007
Don’t Look Now, Dad, I’M Naked on Stage With Harry Potter
By ELIZABETH DAY
THE pictures last week of Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe entwined with his naked co-star caused a media furore.But the girl at the centre of the commotion, Joanna Christie, is remarkably calm about appearing nude with the world's most famous teenager in front of 1,000 theatregoers every night.
The 24-year-old actress admits, however, she does have one slight concern what her property developer father Paul might say when he sees her naked on stage in the hotly-anticipated London revival of Peter Shaffer's hit play Equus.
'I think I'll just have to tell him not to look,' she says with a giggle.
Huddersfield-born Joanna fought off stiff competition for the part of Jill Mason, the love interest of 17-year-old Daniel's character, the disturbed stable-boy Alan Strang. In the play he blinds several horses with a hoof pick after a torrid sexual encounter with her. It is a deeply challenging role, but Joanna says: 'Luckily, I feel very comfortable with Dan. He and I get on really well and that definitely helps create a relaxed atmosphere in rehearsals.
'Because we both appear naked on stage, we feel like we can support each other. There's a lot of pressure and I am sure Dan feels it too.
When we first started rehearsing, it became a joke between us. But the nudity isn't gratuitous. It is beautiful and necessary to the play. When we're naked on stage, it's not me and Dan, it's the characters and it's our job to honour the play.' Joanna, who has appeared in BBC1's Holby City, says she was surprised by the furore over the rehearsal photographs. 'There have been photos of me on the front page of Indian newspapers. It's been bizarre, but exciting. I expected some of it because obviously, it was Daniel Radcliffe and he's famous.
'I think in a lot of people's minds he's still Harry Potter. I'd read the first two Harry Potter books and I'd seen Dan in some of the films, so it was weird to begin with, but we're over that now.' In preparation for the play, which opens at London's Gielgud Theatre on February 27, she has been taking regular yoga classes and runs four times a week. She also cycles from her home in Shoreditch, East London, to the daily rehearsals in Southwark.
While her frame is slender, it is not slight or fragile.
'I'd be lying if I said there wasn't any pressure to be skinny, but I hate it,' she says.
'Our job is to play real people, not models. If I am going on stage naked, I don't want to perpetuate these size zero expectations.
'I don't want to be part of that. I want to look strong and healthy.'
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