Naomi Watts and Jonathan Bailey bond over awkward masturbation scenes: 'I was traumatized'

The duo revisit performing intimate scenes for "Mulholland Drive" and "Fellow Travelers," respectively.

Naomi Watts and Jonathan Bailey swapped stories about filming intimate scenes for the screen — namely, masturbation sequences.

For Variety's Actors on Actors series, Watts marveled at the love story at the center of Bailey's miniseries Fellow Travelers, a historical romance centered on the volatile romance of two queer political staffers. "It was so beautiful. I cried a lot," Watts said, referencing the intimate moments, which led Bailey to bring up Watts' masturbation scene in David Lynch's 2001 thriller Mulholland Drive.

"There’s something very specific that I want to ask you about," Bailey, who also shared that he had studied the Lynch film while at Oxford, said. "I had to do a scene that actually wasn’t included in the story, which ended up informing a lot of the character. It was me masturbating. And I remembered—"

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"Oh, Mulholland Drive, yes," Watts said. "I was traumatized."

"Yeah, so was I," Bailey replied. "And it was really similar, actually. Anyway, I just remember giggling quite a lot, and the line between feeling comfortable and feeling not, when the stakes are that high."

"I remember having to go to the bathroom multiple times because I think I might have been having explosive something or other," Watts said, laughing. "I was so in butterflies. I was freaked out and David knew that, but he didn’t want to not get the scene. I kept sort of attempting it and going, 'I can’t do this, David. I can’t do it.' He was always off at the other side of the room in a black tent or something, and actually he made it very private for me.

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Bailey asked, "And [this was] before the time where we had intimacy coaches and all that, right?"

<p>Everett Collection</p> Naomi Watts in 'Mulholland Drive'

Everett Collection

Naomi Watts in 'Mulholland Drive'

"Oh, forget that. No, it was not like that," Watts said, noting she "managed to feel a bit safer" because the environment of privacy that Lynch had created. "But I just kept crying," she added. "And he didn’t want an emotive scene; he wanted someone who was angry and trying to reconnect with an erotic moment."

Said to have originally been conceived as a TV pilot, Mulholland Drive starred Watts as an aspiring Hollywood actress who meets a mysterious woman (Laura Harring) who is amnesiac after a car wreck. Together, they work to piece together her true identity.

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Watts, who has previously spoken about how tough it was for her to film the masturbation scene, also recalled to Bailey feeling like she was doing "the worst acting to ever hit the screen" because of the amount of notes Lynch passed onto her.

Watch Watts and Bailey's full conversation above.

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