Maud Adams breaks out in a playboy pictorial, with scenes from her sexy film, Tattoo:
former top model maud adams joins bruce dern in “tattoo',' the year's most controversial skin game
pictorial essay By BRUCE WILLIAMSON. Maud Adams photographed exclusively for PLAYBOY by Denis Piel.
With the upcoming autumn release of Joseph E. Levine's Tattoo, movie mavens as well as mere voyeurs will be treated to one of those sexual collisions that nearly always provoke controversy.
Do they or don't they really get it on? is the big question. We may never know the answer, for magnificent Maud Adams and quixotic Bruce Dern. who co-star as the film's extravagantly adorned busy bodies, have been Hashing different signals all year about whether or not their lovemaking during the intensely erotic climax of Tattoo is the real thing. Dern said yes in a woman’s magazine interview last spring, adding, "The film is not X-rated, but what the crew saw was X-rated." Then a slightly mismatched pair of interviews in Oui's April issue had Bruce promising “a whole fucking relationship from beginning to middle to end, including a physical consummation on camera,” while Maud played it cagey in print—and privately began to steam. Such food for feuds seldom hurts at the box office, and there is an honorable historic tradition of speculating about famous love scenes that seem to fog the fine line between hard breathing and hard-core—Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in Don’t Look Now, Sarah Miles and Kris Kristofferson in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace. . . . That’s pretty good fast company.
Photo: Chosen over 200 other dream girls to entice Dern in Tattoo (right), Adams shows the distinctive style that prompts super-producer Joseph E. Levine to laud her as "the most beautiful, most promising actress I have had the pleasure to present since Sophia Loren in Two Women."
Photo: The big talked - about love scene in Tattoo (left) and the intense erotic moment just preceding it (opposite page) bring a dramatic new dimension to you-show-me-yours-and I'll-show-you-mine. "I can't imagine what some people will say when they see this," says Dern, though Maud insists that their sexy close encounter may appear to be cinema verite but was mostly realistic acting and . . . well, all in a day's work. We say nice work if you can get it—and the Moral Majority doesn't picket theater box offices.
Photo: Unveiling his handiwork (above), Dern's compulsive tattooist personifies the film's provocative paster, which proclaims: EVERY GREAT LOVE LEAVES ITS MARK. As director Bob Brooks puts it: "The most horrific aspect of the movie is that he does on the outside of the body what we ordinarily do on the inside—we tattoo each other's heads."
SCENES FROM "TATTOO" PHOTOGRAPHED BY NANCY ELLISON/GAMMA-LIASON
Photo: Says Tattoo cinematographer Arthur Ornitz, “She has something that Garbo had, that almost mesmerizes the camera, but she's a freer spirit than Garbo." Maud's classic beauty becomes gloriously warm when she oils up, then simmers down far photo sessions at a Long Island beach house where she is no longer a captive as in Tattoo—merely captivating. A dedicated nature lover, Maud finds "utter bliss" in the outdoors. "That's where I go to seek peace, strength, a new perspective. It's like meditation far me. This is a key to Swedish temperament. When you're brought up in a severe climate, you love warmth. People just blossom like flowers in the summer sun." Call her a queen if you want to turn Maud off. But who would want to?
Photo: Working with photographer Denis Piel, says this scrumptious Svensko flicka, "was more like an acting experience than simply posing in front of a camera. He prepares you for a shot almost as a director would, then seems to be peeking in on you with a feeling of intimacy that I love." Whether posing or performing, unguardedly nude or Tattoo'd, what Maud values most is total commitment. "I'm a modern woman in that I've always looked after myself; yet I'm old-fashioned when it comes to love. I like to take care of a man, cook for him. Giving love and being loved back is the most marvelous thing I know."
Adams and Dern, however, don’t really need a trumped-up battle of the sexes to sell themselves. He has been one of moviedom’s top character actors since the early Sixties, finally nudging his way to superstardom for his hypersensitive work in Coming Home and last year’s unfairly neglected Middle Age Crazy. Maud, a Scandinavian cover girl who made her first movie (The Christian Licorice Store) in I97I, is the former supermodel well remembered for that rainy, wringing-wet Lip Quencher TV commercial, though she also made a splash opposite Roger Moore's James Bond in The Man With The Golden Gun.
Still, what’s a more interesting conversational topic than sex? In search of the story behind the movie and Australian-born photographer Denis Piel’s PLAYBOY-commissioned exclusive shooting of Maud Adams, I decided to let the lady have the last word. So I talked to Dern first.
"Maud and I did more exploring of each other than of the material, in terms of a relationship."
Bruce was wearing a plaid shirt and jeans when he showed up at my Beverly-Wilshire Hotel suite. Now 45, with a lean, hungry look, he's a habitual runner (lately doing 45-50 miles per week). He used to teach acting, a craft he practices with total concentration and with that hypnotic intensity that became his trademark in the neurotic, weirdo or redneck roles he used to play before Hollywood discovered he could be a certified sex object to hordes of women. Although Dern didn’t want to give away too much of the plot of Tattoo, he admitted having had misgivings that the character he portrays—a tattoo artist who becomes romantically obsessed with a famous model and spirits her away to his beach house—might be viewed as a throwback to those psycho parts. “I was worried about it. I didn’t want the Bruce Dern of Black Sunday to reappear in Tattoo. But Joe Levine didn’t want that, either. This is not the study of a psycho. In this movie, through a character, I feel there is more of the real soul of Bruce Dern than in any role I've ever played. This is a most honest love story, the serious exploration of a relationship."
The casting of Maud, Dern confided, was a combination of flukes. "Actually, they offered the role to Nastassja Kinski, but she didn't want to do it. We had to find a girl I could literally fall in love with, be obsessed with, someone I could give everything to. It was my secretary, Donna, who saw Maud on The Tonight Show and said. ‘You ought to take a look, she’d be right for the part.’ Three hours earlier, as it happened, our director. Bob Brooks, had seen the same show in New York and asked who that girl was. They flew her out for an interview the next day."
During the first two weeks of rehearsal, Dern continued, “Maud and I did more exploring of each other than of the material, in terms of a relationship. 'I'm not interested in fucking you,' I told her, 'because I have a wife, Andrea, the lovely lady you had dinner with last night. She's here, she goes on all locations with me. But for me, the purest kind of acting is to be publicly private. In order to do that,' I told Maud, I'm going to have to be totally naked mentally and physically—and you’re going to have to be mentally and physically naked, too, in front of 60 people on the crew who are-going to be embarrassed by what you're doing. Unless you're ready for that, you won't be happy with this role.'
"So now, when some guy asks me. Well, did you fuck her?, I always say that what you see in the movie is what you get. There's no question that my penis was around her erogenous zone . . . and was not in a limber state. At the same time, remember, you have to do take two, then takes three and four. Nothing was going on between us outside the movie, yet Maud and I loved each other, and what you see in that final scene is real, legitimate lovemaking. I mean, that's as good a piece of ass as I'll ever be—in that scene. That's it. I've always felt there are pieces of me left in films that I never get back somehow. And I probably left more in Tattoo, particularly in that bedroom, than in any other film. I poured my guts out and the camera caught it, and if they say that's shit, then I’m fucked, because I don't have any more than that to give."
Dern predicts that, besides stirring controversy, the movie may launch a fad for temporary skin tattoos. "You know, Levine and his two make-up men have patented the process they used on us. So you can have a tattoo effect just for an evening. Actually, it stays on from 48 to 72 hours."
Does it stay on when you make love? was my inevitable next question.
Dern smiled his crooked .smile. "Well, it did in the movie."
Full of praise for his co-star as far more than a flickering partner in passion. Bruce ventured that Tattoo would establish Maud's dramatic credentials light-years beyond what the public has been conditioned to expect of a model. "There's a moment when she gets out of bed and goes to the closet to look for her clothes and turns and sees herself in a mirror, and moves to the mirror and starts to rub off the tattoo on her body . . . and that reaction of Maud's, that whole scene, is as incredibly pure a piece of work by an actor as any I've ever seen.” And that's from a man who once taught acting classes attended by Ellen Burstyn and her ilk.
From Dern's provocative description, Maud's second heaviest day was a masturbation scene she began on camera and had to continue after the action cut to Dern outside the bedroom door. "I told her, 'You must do it. Maud, for your own sake . . . you must really do it. without your robe on, so I can see. And I promise no one else will see what you do.' and no one did. Because the camera is outside shooting me. a strange shot, watching her through a little peephole. What makes the scene work is that I’m almost ashamed while I'm asking her to do it, but the compulsiveness of the character makes him keep on. Then she opens the door, and I'm a basket case, and she goes into another rage-”
By the time I caught up with Maud at her house nestled in one of the Hollywood canyons, she was no longer angry with Dern, only wary and bemused by his loose lipped lack of restraint. “First, I just blew my stack. I was furious,” she said, blue eyes brightening as she poured me a vodka and lounged stylishly in a natural-cotton jump suit. Uh, well, a girl like Maud might make a guy feel reckless.
“We've talked about it, and I forgive him." she continued. “Bruce has a tendency to get carried away . . . with words. I think he also wanted to come on in those interviews, for fun, as a kind of macho man. When he speaks of physical consummation during our love scene, readers are set up to believe there’s actual penetration taking place. That is what people are left thinking, that we're actually making it-”
Maud softened a little. “Even if we were, wouldn't it have been better left unsaid? I felt very hurt, because I had gained such respect for Bruce in the course of the film, as the most consummate actor I'd ever seen. I also loved him as a person and thought he was such a sensitive, vulnerable man. But I think when he starts working on any project, he loses Bruce Dern and becomes the character he’s playing. That was very evident about halfway through the movie.
"The same thing happened to me, in a sense, big emotional revelations about myself, almost like psychoanalysis. I felt violated at times. Before that, I'd done love scenes with some nudity, innocent scenes underneath the sheets. I would always insist the nudity be kept to a minimum; I felt very uptight. I'm not against it on principle. Growing up as I did, however, being super-shy, with a puritanical kind of background, it was very hard for me to relate to sex in a public, open manner. The way I was raised, that’s a topic to be kept behind closed doors."
She was raised in a subarctic Swedish town called Lulea, but good genes and that viking bone structure made it more or less inevitable that Maud would not wind up herding reindeer. She was scarcely into her teens—a tall, skinny tomboy on the verge of jailbait, preferring Lady Chatterley's Lover to dull textbooks— when she overheard her mother, watching Maud basking in the sun, say, "My God. this girl is going to be something'.'' Which clearly implied something for the boys. Determined to derail such prophecies, Maud's strict father wouldn't let her have boyfriends or even go to school dances. “Yet I managed to keep somebody on the side," she acknowledges, “a Hungarian refugee, with dark curly hair ... he was my first lover.”
Flash forward to Stockholm, where Maud became a successful model, then moved in with and ultimately married graphic artist-photographer Roy Adams, an Englishman who stayed with her while she conquered the Everests of high fashion in Paris and New York. Her first and only marriage, long since dissolved, is hardly one of Maud's favorite topics. She would rather discuss the films she has done, the Bond flick or Rollerball with James Caan, or her uncharacteristic role as a plain, plucky Belgian- Jewish woman in Playing for Time, last year's controversial television drama with Vanessa Redgrave. She may even relish telling you about movies she didn't make, such as The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Replaced by Lesley-Anne Down, Maud was peremptorily fired—either because she balked at what seemed a gratuitous nude scene or because of the bad vibes set off following a strange, celibate weekend in Paris with the late Peter Sellers. But that’s another story.
Three years ago, Maud irrevocably left Lip Quencher behind to fight for unqualified recognition as an actress. After a year of virtual solitude at an old farmhouse she owned in Connecticut, she went West to stay, with time out for a couple of bread-and-butter film jobs abroad. “The parts I got were not terrific, mainly episodic TV work. And because I still had a trace of accent, I'd generally be playing villainous women, Russian spies, that kind of thing. I studied acting, too, and started getting better, getting good feedback from the studios and casting agents."
She also hit the TV talk-show circuit, though she confesses she has to stifle a yawn when interviewers start to grill her as a golden, free-spirited Scandinavian sex goddess. “If you're Swedish, they think you must be very free regarding sex. It’s all so ridiculous. Most of my life. I've been quite monogamous. Yet I consider myself liberated, and I do feel that Swedish women have a certain naturalness that allows them to regard life, sex, everything in a very normal, healthy way. We're open, I guess. But I'm old-fashioned, too. There are no rules about love. People like Merv Griffin always treat me like a sex expert and ask questions about the differences between European and American men. I just shrug. That doesn't seem to me a serious subject. Merv will say. How come you're not living with your boyfriend?' As if that's the truly normal and correct thing to do nowadays. He seemed quite shocked once when I told him I've discovered the best way is: Don't live with the man you love and don’t love the man you live with."
Don't believe a word of it. Maud was aglow when she flew East for photo sessions several weeks after our encounter in California. She had just broken off a three-year relationship that seemed beyond repair and was excitedly considering moving in with a celebrated plastic surgeon she had met and mesmerized on the run. "I love romance,” she said, all but purring. “I love romantic men. I love surprises, but not gifts per se. ... I mean a thought. Simple, wonderful things like a flower at your bedside table."
She also loves simple things like yoga, tennis, sunshine, picking lingonberries and blueberries in the woods of Sweden in fall, when the air is cool, the skies bright and clear. Lest we forget, however, having the top spot in a major new movie can turn a girl's head as well as touch her heart. "It's been a really good climb,” Maud notes, "and all of a sudden, being billed above the title as leading lady puts you in a different category. There are lots of people out there, and you're competing with the heavyweights, Faye Dunaway or whoever. That's exciting, I feel so good about everything right now."
Because Maud is obviously in mint condition, the plastic surgeon can relax and enjoy her as she is. Tattoo and Bruce Dern, however, may change the complexion of her future in more ways than one.
[Source: Playboy, October 1981, P.100-I07,207,210-211. Copyright © 1981 Playboy. All rights reserved.]