Juno Temple constantly gets asked about being naked on screen, even when she isn’t. The 30-year-old performer currently stars in Katharine O’Brien’s feature debut, Lost Transmissions, as an aspiring song-writer who befriends a musician (Simon Pegg) struggling with schizophrenia. She is fully clothed the whole time, and yet, since she’s developed a bit of a reputation for nude scenes over the years, it feels like something critics constantly need to point out. And Temple, who’s been acting since she nailed her very first audition for Notes On A Scandal at 17, doesn’t see why it’s such a big deal.
“I feel like I’ve been so penalised for it,” Temple told Refinery29 in a phone call ahead of the film’s March 14th UK release.”I’ve taken a lot of roles that I feel it’s been necessary for, and I’ve said no to it in moments, but it’s something I’m not afraid of. I’m more afraid to take off my clothes in real life than I am in front of a camera.”
For Temple, the bigger challenge is to lay her emotions bare. Lost Transmissions, which tackles mental health in a personal, unvarnished way, certainly required that she do so.
“The first time I saw this film, I actually felt more vulnerable than I did in movies where I’ve taken my clothes off. You’re either exposing your brains or you’re exposing your boobs — which is more frightening?”
"Nudity has never been a huge drama in my life,” she adds. “When I hear people say, ‘Oh she’s got her tits out,’ I’m like, ‘So? How was the actual performance?’”
In a word? Phenomenal. Temple crackles in a role that requires her to be quiet but forceful, her natural charisma shining through in even the darkest moments. As Hannah, she is both captivated by and fearful of Theo’s (Pegg) attitude towards his mental illness, fighting to support and help him even when that means making very tough decisions. Her chemistry with Pegg is obvious. Theo and Hannah instantly develop a comfortable, loving — if not sexual — relationship as he takes her under his wing and records a demo for her to send to studios.
“I was really nervous,” she said. “I choked a couple of times when we were shooting. You get this lump in your throat — which is a new thing for me! As an actress I get quite excited about things that are challenging, and I don’t really get that kind of fear factor. It’s a different kind of vulnerability than acting. Katherine was just like, Act like you can do it. Sweet and simple, baby! And it worked. “
“I wanted to have an all-girl punk band called The Wet Ones when I was a teenager,” she added. “So that definitely satisfied a secret part of me that always wished I was a musician.”
In Lost Transmissions, Hannah ends up writing songs for pop star Dana Lee, played by Alexandra Daddario, unrecognisable in a icy blue wig, thick fake lashes, and bright pink claws. “She’s like this Katy Perry delightful piece of liquorice,” Temple laughs. “She was improvising a lot. I loved working with her!”
With over 51 credits to her name — and that’s not counting the two projects she currently has in post production — Temple can certainly claim the indie darling moniker. And though film will always be her first love, she’s also increasingly drawn to TV, something she never thought she’d want to do just a couple years ago. Along with Vinyl, she also starred as Veronica Newell in Bravo’s limited series Dirty John, based on the popular podcast.
Her next project is called Little Birds, a limited series based on Anais Nin’s collection of erotic short stories co-starring Fleabag’s Hugh Skinner. Temple plays American debutante Lucy Savage, who travels to Tangiers in1955 only to discover a decadent party scene. And before you ask...
“Actually, I don’t think you see me fully naked in that,” Temple said. “That’s kind of the point — it’s about women almost being satisfied, but never quite getting there.”