James Norton strips off on stage! Happy Valley star performs NAKED in ‘disturbing’ new role for theatre adaptation of A Little Life
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Happy Valley fans were gripped when he shaved off his long hair as incarcerated psycho Tommy Lee Royce.
But James Norton‘s latest role sees him shedding rather more – with the actor performing naked on stage.
The 37-year-old plays disabled lawyer Jude St Francis in A Little Life, an adaptation of the Booker-nominated novel by Hanya Yanagihara.
The actor, who previously described the role as ‘disturbing’, is seen running around the stage at the Richmond Theatre with no clothes on, crawling on the floor, and being lifted up by his co-stars.
He is also seen naked and lying face down on a blood-splattered floor.
Norton’s character self-harms and struggles to cope with mental trauma from his childhood. The role sees him engaging in scenes of sexual love and violence.
Speaking ahead of the play’s West End transfer later this month, he praised the job of intimacy coordinators.
‘I guess there will be a cost. Physical and an emotional drain, but I don’t know yet,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘We have therapists they’ve really gone through amazing safeguards to make sure we are looked after because… we do have to go places that are very disturbing.
‘Some people will say “oh I don’t need them” but if that intimacy co-ordinator prevents that one actor from experiencing life-changing trauma then of course it justifies the other 99 people who don’t need it. I needed it on this, definitely.’
Norton stars alongside Zach Wyatt, from ITV drama Karen Pirie, It’s A Sin’s Omari Douglas and Luke Thompson of Bridgerton fame.
They play four friends from University whose relationships are tested by addiction, sexuality, success and childhood trauma.
The story plays out over nearly four hours – a potentially gruelling stint for Norton who is a Type 1 diabetic and needs to inject insulin and monitor his sugar levels.
He revealed he has sugar tablets dotted around the set at the south-west London theatre. ‘I’ve got one in the wheelchair and there’s one in the kitchen,’ he said.
A Little Life, published in 2015, has sold more than one million copies and accrued a huge fanbase. But some theatregoers snapped up tickets for other reasons.
‘I’d like to pretend I’m very literary but I’m just here to see James Norton naked,’ one told the Daily Mail this week.
Its West End premiere will mark the show’s English-language debut having previously been performed in Dutch.
A Little Life will run for 12 weeks from next Saturday at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London with a further five weeks at the Savoy Theatre from July 4.
One attendee at Richmond Theatre on Tuesday, said they made the decision to leave at the interval after the ‘relentless misery’ became too much for them.
Another audience member called the adaptation, brought to stage by director Ivo Van Hove, ‘possibly the most upsetting, unflinchingly brutal and explicit play I’ve ever seen.’
After attending early performances this week, fans of the play took to social media to express their shock at just how ‘raw’ the production is.
One wrote: ‘#Only made it to the interval of “A Little Life”. 1 hour 50’ of relentless misery was more than enough for me….(I gather it didn’t end ‘happily’) #Alittlelifeplay.’
A fellow audience member wrote: ‘#ALittleLifePlay is brutal. Relentlessly brutal. But also brilliant theatre. The entire cast shines. But it’s James Norton who is the powerhouse. Barely off stage for more than 3.5 hours, this may be his best work. Award winning stuff. But not for the faint hearted!’
Another added: ‘Possibly the most upsetting, unflinchingly brutal and explicit play I’ve ever seen which is definitely not for the faint of heart. The entire cast soars and James Norton is an absolute powerhouse in this heartbreaking epic.’
One theatregoer penned on Twitter: ‘It feels wrong to say you enjoyed something when the content is so raw & difficult, but I am extremely glad I got to see this masterpiece brought to life in such a thoughtful way.’