The London-born actress, now 74, has taken on a number of iconic roles, including the Queen, but at the start of her career she stripped-off for the controversial film ‘Age of Consent’. She starred in the 1968 Australian hit where she played Cora, a young model hired by an artist. The ‘Devil Wears Prada’ actress appeared nude in a number of scenes, while she was in her 20s, which was filmed near to The Great Barrier Reef.
The romance flick saw Dame Helen’s character vye for the attention of Bradley Morahan, a painter played by James Mason, before romance unfolded on the big screen and culminated in a night of passion.
She revealed the cultural shock she had while she filmed in the Commonwealth country but believed it had changed drastically since.
Dame Helen told The Australian Woman’s Weekly in 2018: “It was a very different Australia from the Australia of today.
“We were shooting on the Great Barrier Reef and women weren’t allowed in pubs!”
Despite the restrictive laws, she claimed to have enjoyed her time on-set and later described Melbourne as one of the world’s “greatest cities”.
During the trailer for ‘Age of Consent’, Dame Helen’s character Cora was described as “a girl as beautiful and as unspoiled as the world she lives in”.
Her leading man was said to be an artist who left his “conventions behind in London” and propositioned the young star to model for him.
In one scene, the painter instructs Helen: “It’s the dress, take it off.”
She removed her clothing and posed as she stood in water up to her waist.
In a later scene, while flicking through the work he had produced based-on Dame Helen’s naked body he seemed determined to paint her again.
He said: “It’s going to be the best work I ever did too, look, look at that light on there, chunks of the face need fixing a bit but no hurry, we’ve got all the time in the world.”
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As she walks around the artwork, Helen frowns before she yells at him: “You only want me for the pictures!”
She races off into the night pursued by her suitor, who moments before tries to reassure her “it’s not true” before he also darts across the sand and the trailer ends.
The International Movie Database (IMDB) claimed that the film was initially released with an X-rating but later was released under a lesser A-rating after parts were censored.
This included some nude scenes being fully removed and others cut short, in addition to “some suggestive dialogue” not making the film release too.
‘Age of Consent’ was directed by Michael Powell and released in 1969, it can be watched on Amazon Prime.