Journalists love to marvel at the lengths Daniel Day Lewis goes to inhabit a character. But their curiosity is piqued even higher by another acting feat: when an actress (or actor!) plays a stripper. How do they dooooo it? And so, whether it is Jennifer Aniston strutting in a bikini in the new We’re the Millers or Natalie Portman in Closer or even Jamie Lee Curtis doing some bedpost pole-dancing in True Lies, interviewers instantly fire off some very familiar questions about pretending to work in the exotic dancing field. Here are the five questions most commonly asked, and a sampling of the answers given. (Also, a bonus answer from Halle Berry, who does not know how to play this game.)
Oh, my God, you looked fantastic up there! How did you get into shape?
“I didn’t eat bread for, like, a month.” -Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler (Access Hollywood)
“I was on a very like, you know, greens and vegetables, and lean proteins and kale. When I really wanted to have a cheat day, I had to have a kale chip.” -Jennifer Aniston, We’re the Millers (Us Weekly)
“[Waxing my legs for the role] was the most painful thing I’ll ever do, and it’s something I’ll never do again.” -Channing Tatum, Magic Mike (People)
“I just wanted to make sure that my body was plausible in a strip club, because I had this image that everyone at a strip club had huge breasts and is seven feet tall, but I went and I saw that they had all shapes and sizes. I guess people have different tastes, so as soon as I realized that, I was fine.” -Natalie Portman, Closer (MTV)
What did you learn about strippers? When answering, please make the profession sound as honorable as possible.
“There isn’t just one type of woman who does this, they’re actually very smart, interesting, strong and very present women who consciously choose this [stripping] as their profession or occupation. And many women just like my character, creating a lifestyle they believe is the best they can do for their children, or better, than say a secretary or a waitress making, you know, minimum wage.” -Demi Moore, Striptease (Associated Press)
“I took this female empowerment class. As a woman, it’s inspiring because any woman can feel sexy and you’re cheering each other on. You’re not doing it for like, ‘Oh, just give me a tip.’ Usually people wear shorts and a tank top or a bra and you just cheer each other on. You’re doing it to feel good about yourself and see other women feel good about themselves.” -Heather Graham, The Hangover (ANI)
Tell me about learning how to pole dance!
“I started working with Sheila Kelly who does these classes called S-Factor lessons, and they do somewhat of an erotic yoga before to warm you up … It’s really hard getting on those poles. There were these women who were upside down, sliding down head first, and then flipping over, and going back up.” -Lindsay Lohan, I Know Who Killed Me (MovieWeb)
“I had to bring my A-game. So, two weeks beforehand, I took a pole-dancing lesson. It’s an insane work-out! I give strippers a whole lot of credit.” -Jessica Szohr, The Internship (MSTARS)
“I took lessons. When I was preparing for the role I was studying at Oxford, actually. It was surreal … I was incredibly ungraceful at first. The upper-body strength and the core strength that you need to do it gracefully is crazy. You have to be incredibly strong.” -Emma Watson, The Bling Ring (GQ)
Now, tell me something funny about pole-dancing!
“I just tried to find out how humanly possibly close you could get your [gestures to her crotch] to the post. I’ve never licked a bedpost [in real life] actually.” -Jamie Lee Curtis, True Lies (The Tonight Show)
“I never knew how to dance the pole. I had them Windex it, because if you think about it, they use Vaseline on it. And you know how they tell you not to put Vaseline on a cut because bacteria breeds there? Just think about that.” -Rose McGowan, Grindhouse (IGN)
“I went to a strip club with the director and the costume designer and it being an odd grouping of people going into a strip club in the middle of the afternoon, I was, like, straight-up offered a job.” -Kristen Stewart, Welcome to the Rileys (Daily Mail)
“We went down to Action Central Cabaret in Shreveport, Louisiana, and I got to hang out in the locker room with the strippers, and they were so sweet. Being able to hang out with the strippers let me know a little about the logistics of working at a strip club. I learned that what they do is incredibly difficult … It’s really an underappreciated dance form.” -Olivia Wilde, Butter (The New York Post)
“I went to one male revue in New Orleans. Channing and I went together. The one thing I got from that: this is not these guys’ real jobs. One guy I met that night was back from Afghanistan. Another guy was a lawyer and had three kids. They all looked like accountants when they were in street clothes. The other thing I learned is the production value is horrible. I said to Steven, “Can I run this production?” I took off on that. I became P.T. Barnum. I was channeling Jim Morrison and Malcolm McDowell from A Clockwork Orange…” -Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike (The Daily Beast)
Boy, sounds like stripping is hard!
“[There’s] not much research to play a stripper — you just kind of take your clothes off! It’s kind of easy!” -Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice (NY Daily News)
Oh, then never mind.