James Norton strips on stage! Happy Valley star plays NAKED in ‘disturbing’ new theatrical role

Happy Valley fans were taken aback when he shaved off his long hair as incarcerated psychopath Tommy Lee Royce.

But in James Norton’s latest role, he loses a bit more – with the actor standing naked on stage.

The 37-year-old plays disabled attorney Jude St Francis in A Little Life, an adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s Booker-nominated novel.

The actor, who previously described the role as ‘disturbing’, is seen running around the stage at the Richmond Theater naked, crawling across the floor and being lifted by his fellow actors.

He is also seen naked and lying face down on a blood splattered floor.

Shocking! In James Norton’s final role, he stands naked on stage as disabled lawyer Jude St Francis in A Little Life

Norton’s character self-harms and struggles to deal with mental trauma from his childhood. In the role, he takes part in scenes of sexual love and violence.

Speaking ahead of the play’s West End transfer later this month, he praised the work of intimacy coordinators.

“I think there will be costs. Physically and emotionally exhausting but I don’t know yet,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We have therapists who have taken really great precautions to make sure we are taken care of because… we have to go places that are very disturbing.

“Some people will say ‘oh I don’t need them,’ but if that intimacy coordinator prevents that one actor from experiencing life-changing trauma, it naturally justifies the other 99 people who don’t need it. I absolutely needed it for this.’

Norton stars alongside Zach Wyatt, from ITV drama Karen Pirie, It’s A Sin’s Omari Douglas and Bridgerton’s Luke Thompson.

They play four friends from college whose relationships are tested by addiction, sexuality, success and childhood trauma.

The story plays out over nearly four hours — a potentially grueling period for Norton, who has type 1 diabetes and must inject insulin and monitor his sugar levels.

In character: The actor, who previously described the role as 'disturbing', is seen running around the stage at the Richmond Theater naked

In character: The actor, who previously described the role as ‘disturbing’, is seen running around the stage at the Richmond Theater naked

On screen: Depicted as Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley

On screen: Depicted as Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley

Disturbing: James crawls on the floor and is lifted by his co-stars

Disturbing: James crawls on the floor and is lifted by his co-stars

Tough Guard: Norton's character hurts himself and struggles to deal with mental trauma from his childhood.  In the role, he takes part in scenes of sexual love and violence

Tough Guard: Norton’s character hurts himself and struggles to deal with mental trauma from his childhood. In the role, he takes part in scenes of sexual love and violence

He revealed that he has sugar tablets scattered around the set at the theater in South West London. “I have one in the wheelchair and one is in the kitchen,” he said.

Published in 2015, A Little Life has sold over a million copies and built up a huge fan base. But some theatergoers bought tickets for other reasons.

“I’d like to pretend to be very literary, but I’m just here to see James Norton naked,” someone told the Daily Mail this week.

The West End premiere marks the English-language debut of the show, which was previously performed in Dutch.

A Little Life will run for 12 weeks from this Saturday at London’s Harold Pinter Theater and for a further five weeks from July 4 at the Savoy Theatre.

Bare: Speaking ahead of the play's West End transfer later this month, he praised the work of intimacy coordinators

Bare: Speaking ahead of the play’s West End transfer later this month, he praised the work of intimacy coordinators

Difficult: 'I think there are costs involved.  Physically and emotionally exhausting but I don't know yet,

Difficult: ‘I think there are costs involved. Physically and emotionally exhausting but I don’t know yet,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program

An attendee at the Richmond Theater on Tuesday said they made the decision to leave during intermission after the “relentless misery” got too much for them.

Another audience member called the adaptation, staged by director Ivo Van Hove, “perhaps the most disturbing, staunchly brutal and explicit play I have ever seen.”

After attending early performances this week, fans of the play took to social media to express their shock at how “raw” the production is.

Image: An attendee at the Richmond Theater on Tuesday said they made the decision to leave during intermission after the 'relentless misery' became too much for them

Image: An attendee at the Richmond Theater on Tuesday said they made the decision to leave during intermission after the ‘relentless misery’ became too much for them

One wrote: ‘#Only made it to the break of “A Little Life”. 1hr 50’ of relentless misery was more than enough for me… (I assume it didn’t end ‘happy’) #Alittlelifeplay.”

A fellow audience member wrote, “#ALittleLifePlay is brutal. Relentlessly brutal. But also wonderful theatre. The whole cast shines. But it’s James Norton who is the powerhouse. Barely more than 3.5 hours off stage, this is arguably his best work. Award-winning stuff. But not for the faint hearted!’

Another added, “Possibly the most disturbing, staunchly brutal and explicit piece I’ve ever seen and certainly not for the faint of heart.” The entire cast rises and James Norton is an absolute powerhouse in this heartbreaking epic.”

One theatergoer wrote on Twitter: “It feels wrong to say you enjoyed something when the content is so raw and difficult, but I’m thrilled to have seen this masterpiece come to life in such a thoughtful way.”

A Little Life will run for 12 weeks from this Saturday at London's Harold Pinter Theater and for a further five weeks from July 4 at the Savoy Theatre.

A Little Life will run for 12 weeks from this Saturday at London’s Harold Pinter Theater and for a further five weeks from July 4 at the Savoy Theatre.

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