Barry Keoghan‘s reservations about full-frontal nudity in Saltburn quickly faded away after the cameras started rolling on the scene where he dances naked.
“The initial thing was about me having no clothes on. I’m a bit, ehhh,” Keoghan, 31, told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published on Friday, November 17. “But after take one, I was ready to go. I was like, ‘Let’s go again. Let’s go again.’ You kind of forget, because there’s such a comfortable environment created, and it gives you that license to go, ‘All right, this is about the story now.’”
He credited choreographer Polly Bennett, who also worked on Elvis, with making sure he was comfortable. “I didn’t know I could dance like that, by the way. I was like, ‘Wow. Where did them things come from?’ Do ya know what I mean?” the Banshees of Inisherin actor added.
Keoghan always understood why it was important for his character, Oliver, to strip down. “It’s so relatable, though, right? Let’s be honest. Dancing around in your own space and being silly, knowing that nobody’s watching, and moving your body in any sort of ways it wants to go. We’re at our truest and rawest point when we’re naked,” he told Vogue.
He continued, “When we’re alone, that facade drops. We get to see a glimpse of Oliver at his truest point. It’s a bit of a power thing as well. Then I’m like, ‘Oh, s–t, what happens after that?’ It’s just downwards. He’s got to find something else now, because he’s reached the basically the pinnacle. Where do you go from there?”
Ultimately, the scene was filmed 11 times, Saltburn director Emerald Fennell revealed. “They were all very beautiful,” she told Variety. “It’s quite a complicated and technical camera. A lot of the time, he was immensely patient because there was a lot of naked dancing. Take number seven was technically perfect. You could hear everyone’s overjoyed response, but I had to say ‘sorry’ because it was missing whatever it was that made Oliver that slightly human messiness. So, we had to do it a further four times.”
Keoghan quipped, “I think we got it on the fourth take, but people just wanted to keep seeing me dancing.”
While speaking to EW, Fennell, 38, raved about Keoghan’s determination to get the scene just right. “Barry, to his credit, did it four more times until the one that you see, which has this total f–king evil joie de vivre that is impossible not to be on board with,” she said.
Saltburn follows Oliver (Keoghan) a scholarship student at Oxford University in 2006 who meets Felix (Jacob Elordi), a rich and popular classmate. After they become friends, Felix invites Oliver to stay at his family’s estate, called Saltburn, for the summer break. As he grows closer to Felix’s eccentric family (played by Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant and Alison Oliver), Oliver becomes determined to find a way to keep living the high life.
Saltburn is in theaters in New York and Los Angeles now. It will expand to theaters everywhere on Friday, November 22.