The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Steamy Meg leaves Toronto gasping
- Star sheds comic image for film

A sexually explicit murder mystery pairing romantic comedy star Meg Ryan with Oscar-winning director Jane Campion sent tongues wagging at the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday.

In the Cut, which was making its world debut at the September 4-September 13 Toronto festival on Tuesday, stars Ryan as a lonely writing professor who becomes involved with a crass detective investigating a series of murders.

But journalists at the Toronto festival could talk about little other than the decision by the star of Sleepless in Seattle,You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally to appear nude in the film’s many steamy love scenes. Ryan said she didn’t especially want to do the scenes, but put her faith in New Zealand-born Campion, whose films Holy Smoke and The Piano, for which she won an Academy Award for best screenplay, were similarly explicit.

“I think the scenes are really good though, I think they’re very honest. Jane didn’t want them to be coy, so I don’t think they are at all. And I love how much dialogue is in those scenes. That’s what makes them really intimate,” Ryan said.

“It was the right movie with the right director and the right character. I’ve seen her movies before and I think she’s very trustworthy.”

Ryan said the scenes were shot with just a few people in the room and Campion did everything she could to set the stars at ease, at one point threatening to take her own clothes off.

But relative newcomer Mark Ruffalo, who plays the detective, said there was little the director could do to calm his nerves. “I was scared. I was really scared. And she (Ryan) was with Russell Crowe. All I could think of is: ‘What am I going to be like compared to Russell Crowe'’” he said. Based on Susanna Moore’s novel of the same name, In the Cut has been in the works since 1996, when Campion had talks with Nicole Kidman about playing the lead character.

Kidman reportedly backed out because the role seemed too emotionally demanding after her divorce from Tom Cruise. The film, which also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kevin Bacon, is set in a gritty, claustrophobic New York, where the female characters are tormented by loneliness and each new relationship seems to pose a threat. Ryan said her latest film did not mean she’ll turn her back on the genre that shot her to fame. “I love doing comedies. I needed a break for a little while, but I love it,” she said.

”I come to these rooms all the time and they say 'this is a departure'. Except I've done like 30 movies and I've done seven romantic comedies. So you all can say what you want. I don't care.”

Now celebrating its 28th year, Toronto is ranked with Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Sundance among the world's most influential film festivals. This year's event will screen more than 300 movies from 55 countries.

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