Skip to main contentSkip to footer

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Read our full commerce guidelines here.

Happy Valley star James Norton on reasons behind naked scenes for A Little Life play

James Norton is set to star alongside Bridgerton’s Luke Thompson in the new project

a little play jude
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
13 March 2023
Share this:

James Norton has opened up about appearing naked on stage in the upcoming new stage play for the bestselling novel A Little Life, calling the decision "justified and so necessary" while admitting that he found the experience during rehearsals to be "embarrassing and horrible".

Speaking to The Telegraph about the new play, where the Happy Valley actor plays a man haunted and traumatised by a history of abuse, he explained: "It’s a bit like the violence in this piece and the self-harm: none of it is gratuitous – the nudity is so justified and so necessary in order to find the ultimate shame this man is put through.

WATCH: James Norton chats about A Little Life role - and Jamie Dornan had the best reaction

"Without it, the story and the piece would suffer; none of it is gratuitous. And I feel it. We did one of the scenes recently and, my god, it’s shaming, you know, I lie on the floor naked being kicked and spat on – and it doesn’t get much more degrading than that. I’m there, there’s no journey I have to go on. It’s really embarrassing and horrible.”

He added that there were several safeguards in place for the actors taking on the dark play, which examines issues including sexual abuse, drug addiction and self-harm, including a psychotherapist and intimacy co-ordinators, something that James claims he definitely needed for the show.

james anna play pic 5© Photo: Custom

James plays the troubled Jude St Francis

He told BBC News: "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."

SEE: 7 Happy Valley Easter eggs you might have missed in the epic finale

MORE: Bridgerton major clue hints at who will be season four’s main character - and it’s not Benedict

The show is set to premiere at the Richmond Theatre in March before moving to the Harold Pinter Theatre and recently confirmed that they had extended the run by five weeks, with the show moving to the Savoy Theatre from June.

james norton all© Photo: Custom

The show's run has been extended 


So what is A Little Life about? The play is an adaptation of the novel by Hanya Yanagihara, and follows four close male friends through the trials and tribulations of their lives - as well as their increasing love and concern for one of their members Jude, a brilliant but troubled lawyer - and who James will be portraying in the new play.

Like this story? Sign up to our What to Watch newsletter and get the heads-up on the shows and films everyone’s talking about.

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.